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Colon Cancer Risk Identified by Gut Bacteria
- Updated: August 11, 2014
Gut microbiomes, or gut bacteria, might be helpful in identifying people who are at risk for developing colon cancer, according to Health24.com. A study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan that analyzed stool samples from a variety of patients, including 30 healthy adults, 30 people with advanced rectal or colon cancer, and 30 people with precancerous intestinal polyps.
Each group of people had distinctly different gut microbiomes, which was helpful to researchers in determining a link to colorectal cancer as well as distinguishing how advanced the person’s condition was.
By testing for and analyzing the gut microbiomes that are found, in addition to assessing other known risk factors for invasive colorectal cancer like race, age, or body mass index, researchers say that they found a more than fivefold improved prediction of a disease risk.
Study author Patrick Schloss, associate professor for the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan, said in a news release from the publishing journal, “If our results are confirmed in larger groups of people, adding gut microbiomes analysis to other fecal tests may provide an improved, non-invasive way to screen for colorectal cancer.”
It was also found that analysis of gut microbiomes was a better assessment tool than fecal occult blood testing, a stool sample test, at determining which patients has invasive cancer and which has precancerous polyps. Assessing fecal occult blood tests, gut microbiomes, and body mass index together the most effective at determining a patient with precancerous polyps versus invasive rectal or colon cancer.
Schloss said, “Our data shows that gut microbiome analysis has the potential to be a new tool to non-invasively screen for colorectal cancer. We don’t think that this would ever replace other colorectal cancer screening approaches, rather we see it as complementary.”
The study findings were published by the journal Cancer Prevention Research.