New Research Reveals Gut Bacteria May Be Early Indicator Of Colon Cancer

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine has found that the higher presence of a certain type of bacteria in a gut chrome indicates a higher chances of colon polyps turning cancerous.

The study was done on 40 patients who had taken regular colonoscopies and biopsies were conducted near the polyps. This was done to identify bacteria, which was present at relatively higher levels, in comparison with patients who were polyp-free. The patients were in the age group of 50-75 years with 60 percent of them being women.

According to the study, a common bacteria known as non-enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, was found to be in elevated levels in the mucosal biopsies of patients having polyps. The study also came across unique microbial characteristics.

The research also found distinct microbial signatures separating patients with polyps from those without. The study was also able to make a connection between the amount of B. fragilis in the samples and the growth of small polyps. The study observed, "The rising incidence of colorectal cancer is a major health concern, but little is known about the composition and role of microbiota associated with precancerous polyps."

A detailed examination of the patients revealed that B. fragilis from patients with polyps was different in its capacity to bring about inflammation, in comparison to the B. fragilis in patients without polyps.

The study said, "The whole idea is that most people look at advanced colorectal cancer and think of the microbiome, but it's hard to determine if the microbiome has changed and when it changed. So, an earlier look was taken at the disease and asked when might the microbiome may be pushing a polyp toward cancer."

According to researchers, the data show that for a normal healthy gut to sustain itself within an environment where metabolic and inflammatory changes are occurring, it must adapt in such a way that it adds to the inflammation, rather than suppressing it.

The study concluded that only 5 percent of the polyps in the colon turn cancerous. Researchers said that the polyps grow in the same area of the colon more than once and latest screenings for colon cancer can search for important bacteria like this particular strain of B. fragilis, before cancerous polyps develop.

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