Gut microbes may be a risk factor for colorectal cancer

December 6, 2013

In one of the largest epidemiological studies of human gut bacteria and colorectal cancer ever conducted, a team of researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center has found a clear association between gut bacteria and colorectal cancer. The study, published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, discovered that colorectal cancer patients had fewer beneficial bacteria and more harmful bacteria than people without the disease.

"Our findings are important because identification of these microbes may open the door for prevention and treatment," says Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, assistant professor of population health, and a member of NYU Cancer Institute, who led the study.

The human gut hosts thousands of bacteria, which play an important role in regulating food digestion and inflammation. Mounting evidence links gut microbes to colorectal cancer, a condition diagnosed in 143,000 people in the U.S. each year. The disease kills an estimated 51,000 Americans, second only to lung cancer. However, it is not well understood why colorectal cancer develops.

The researchers compared the DNA composition of intestinal microbes in the stool samples of 141 colorectal cancer patients and healthy volunteers. They found that samples from colorectal-cancer patients had larger populations of Fusobacteria than healthy volunteers. Fusobacteria commonly found in the mouth and gastrointestinal track, are associated with .

Moreover, case samples were more likely than the controls to be depleted of Clostridia, a class of beneficial gut bacteria that help digest dietary fiber and carbohydrates.

"Our next step is to study how diet and lifestyle factors modulate these associated with colorectal cancer. This may lead to ways to prevent this disease" says Dr. Ahn.

Explore further: Possible link between bacterium, colon cancer found

More information: Paper: DOI:10.1093/jnci/djt300

Related Stories

Possible link between bacterium, colon cancer found

October 17, 2011

For the first time, a specific microorganism has been found to be associated with human colorectal cancer. In two studies published online today in Genome Research, independent research teams have identified Fusobacterium ...

A healthy lifestyle helps you survive bowel cancer

August 30, 2013

Women diagnosed with colorectal cancer who are physically active, don't smoke and aren't overweight or obese have dramatically improved survival rates, according to a new study by the UWA-affiliated Western Australian Institute ...

Microbes in the gut help determine risk of tumors

November 5, 2013

Transferring the gut microbes from a mouse with colon tumors to germ-free mice makes those mice prone to getting tumors as well, according to the results of a study published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the ...

Study links intestinal bacteria to rheumatoid arthritis

November 5, 2013

Researchers have linked a species of intestinal bacteria known as Prevotella copri to the onset of rheumatoid arthritis, the first demonstration in humans that the chronic inflammatory joint disease may be mediated in part ...

Recommended for you

Combination therapy can prevent cytostatic resistance

November 26, 2015

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have found a new way of preventing resistance to cytostatics used in the treatment of cancers such as medulloblastoma, the most common form of malignant brain tumour in children. The promising ...

Forecasting the path of breast cancer in a patient

November 23, 2015

USC researchers have developed a mathematical model to forecast metastatic breast cancer survival rates using techniques usually reserved for weather prediction, financial forecasting and surfing the Web.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jan 03, 2014
Consequence/causation poor journalism.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.