Scientists discover how iron levels and a faulty gene cause bowel cancer
High levels of iron could raise the risk of bowel cancer by switching on a key pathway in people with faults in a critical anti-cancer gene, according to a study published in Cell Reports today.
Cancer Research UK scientists, based at the University of Birmingham and the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, found bowel cancers were two to three times more likely to develop in mice with a faulty APC gene that were fed high amounts of iron compared to mice who still had a working APC gene.
In contrast, mice with a faulty APC gene fed a diet low in iron did not develop bowel cancer at all.
Study author Professor Owen Sansom, deputy director of the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow, said: "We've made a huge step in understanding how bowel cancer develops. The APC gene is faulty in around eight out of 10 bowel cancers but until now we haven't known how this causes the disease.
"It's clear that iron is playing a critical role in controlling the development of bowel cancer in people with a faulty APC gene. And, intriguingly, our study shows that even very high levels of iron in the diet don't cause cancer by itself, but rely on the APC gene."
Co-author Dr Chris Tselepis, a Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Birmingham, said: "Our results also suggest that iron could be raising the risk of bowel cancer by increasing the number of cells in the bowel with APC faults. The more of these cells in the bowel, the greater the chance that one of these will become a starting point for cancer.
"We're now planning to develop treatments that reduce the amount of iron in the bowel and so could lower the risk of developing bowel cancer. We hope to start using these in trials in the next few years in people who are at a greater risk."
The study could also explain why foods such as red meat, which have high levels of iron, are linked to an increased risk of bowel cancer.
When the APC gene is deleted, two proteins are switched on that cause iron to build up in bowel cells. When this happens, a key cancer signalling pathway called wnt is switched on, causing cells to grow out of control.
In mice fed a diet with no iron, cells with a faulty APC gene were killed and bowel cancers did not develop. Mice with a fully functioning APC gene did not develop bowel cancers, even when fed a diet high in iron. In these bowel cells, the iron accumulation proteins are turned off and wnt signalling remains inactive.
Dr Julie Sharp, senior science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK. These findings suggest a potentially effective way of reducing the chances of bowel cancer developing in people who are at high risk. Finding ways of 'mopping up' the iron that is in the bowel could have a real impact on the number of people who develop the disease.
"This research is a great example of scientists coming together and sharing their different expertise to find new ways of understanding and potentially preventing cancer."
More information: *Radulescu, S et al. Luminal iron levels govern intestinal tumourigenesis following Apc loss in vivo, Cell Reports (2012)
Journal reference: Cell Reports
Provided by Cancer Research UK
- Gene link to higher rates of bowel cancer in men Jun 01, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists reveal 'protector' gene behind 50-fold increase in number of bowel tumours Nov 26, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Bowel cancer risk doubles for men Jul 27, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Scientists move closer to pinpointing gene involved in bowel cancer spread Jun 02, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Screening helps early diagnosis of bowel cancer Jun 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
8 hours ago As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Researchers have developed a new drug delivery system that allows inhalation of chemotherapeutic drugs to help treat lung cancer, and in laboratory and animal tests it appears to reduce the systemic damage ...
Cancer 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
When turned on, the gene p53 turns off cancer. However, when existing drugs boost p53, only a few tumors die – the rest resist the challenge. A study published in the journal Cell Reports shows how: tumors that live even i ...
Cancer 2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Study leader, Professor John Mathews from the University of Melbourne said this small increase in cancer risk must be weighed against the undoubted benefits from CT scans in diagnosing and monitoring disease.
Cancer 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Cancer survivors are no more likely to stop smoking, cut down on alcohol, or exercise more often than the general population, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer today (Wednesday)
Cancer 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Beta-blockers, normally used for high blood pressure, could enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapies in treating neuroblastoma, a type of children's cancer, according to a new study published in the British Jo ...
Cancer 8 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine ...
36 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
15 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A man who had contracted the coronavirus has died in Saudi Arabia, raising the death toll in the kingdom from the SARS-like virus to 17, the health ministry announced on its website on Wednesday.
9 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
GlaxoSmithKline PLC says it's starting an unusual collaboration with the U.S. government to develop several antibiotics for both bioterrorism threats and bacterial infections resistant to current medicines.
7 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
What effect does a father's depression have on his young son or daughter? When fathers report a high level of emotional intimacy in their marriage, their children benefit, said a University of Illinois study.
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers report that hospitals may be reaping enormous income for patients whose hospital stays are complicated by preventable bloodstream infections contracted in their intensive care units.
37 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0