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: Microbes in the gut help determine risk of tumors

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

Related Stories

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 ...

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 ...

Bacterial imbalance contributes to intestinal inflammation and carcinogenesis

January 2, 2013
Instability in the composition of gut bacterial communities (dysbiosis) has been linked to common human intestinal disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer; however, it is unclear if dysbiosis ...

Genetic aberration paves the way for new treatment of cancer disease

November 6, 2013
(University of Copenhagen) Researchers from Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, have characterized a genetic aberration on a group of colorectal cancer patients. The discovery gives hope for ...

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 ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

No dye: Cancer patients' gray hair darkened on immune drugs

July 21, 2017
Cancer patients' gray hair unexpectedly turned youthfully dark while taking novel drugs, and it has doctors scratching their heads.

Shooting the achilles heel of nervous system cancers

July 20, 2017
Virtually all cancer treatments used today also damage normal cells, causing the toxic side effects associated with cancer treatment. A cooperative research team led by researchers at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center ...

Molecular changes with age in normal breast tissue are linked to cancer-related changes

July 20, 2017
Several known factors are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer including increasing age, being overweight after menopause, alcohol intake, and family history. However, the underlying biologic mechanisms through ...

Immune-cell numbers predict response to combination immunotherapy in melanoma

July 20, 2017
Whether a melanoma patient will better respond to a single immunotherapy drug or two in combination depends on the abundance of certain white blood cells within their tumors, according to a new study conducted by UC San Francisco ...

Discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation

July 19, 2017
More than half of cancer patients undergo radiotherapy, in which high doses of radiation are aimed at diseased tissue to kill cancer cells. But due to a phenomenon known as radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE), in which ...

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors

July 19, 2017
The most comprehensive analysis yet of medulloblastoma has identified genomic changes responsible for more than 75 percent of the brain tumors, including two new suspected cancer genes that were found exclusively in the least ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LaPortaMA
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.