cancer detection may be made easier by testing patients’ hair for mineral content
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Cancer detection may be made easier by testing patients’ hair for mineral content

According to a new study by researchers at the Hyogo Prefectural Center for Advanced Science and Technology, high tech hair analysis can be used to detect cancer. The study reveals that abnormally high levels of calcium, potassium, and other minerals appear in the hair of people with cancer. For example, breast cancer patients showed a high density of calcium levels in their hair for some time before they were diagnosed.

The head of the center, Junichi Chikawa, believes the findings can be used to develop a simple test to detect cancer, and possibly other diseases too, as research continues. By testing patients’ hair and then evaluating more closely the health of those with abnormally high mineral densities, Chikawa believes more and more diseases can become detectable earlier.

Hair grows about 1cm per month, so a 12cm-long strand contains a year-long record of biological history. Researchers tested the hair of 17 breast cancer patients to find that 8 to 12 months before diagnosis, the calcium density of their hair was already five to ten times the normal level. The calcium density in the hair then gradually returned to normal levels in later months. For patients with liver cancer, the abnormality was low potassium and germanium levels months before diagnosis. Chikawa believes the onset of the cancer disturbs metabolism of the various minerals, causing the temporarily high levels in the hair.

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