Counting calories and exercising regularly is a strategy to lower the risk for colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.
New research shows that obesity, rather than diet, causes changes in the colon that may lead to colorectal cancer, according to a news release from the National Institutes of Health.
Many studies have shown that people who are obese are predisposed to a number of cancers, particularly colorectal cancer. Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences wanted to better understand the processes behind this link.
Using mice, they were able to show that additional weight appeared to activate more genes that are associated with colorectal cancer progression, suggesting that obesity predisposes them to colon cancer.
“Any preexisting colon lesions in these animals are more likely to evolve rapidly into malignant tumors,” said Paul Wade, one of the scientists involved in the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism. “The same thing may happen in humans.”
The next step to understanding how obesity prompts the body to develop colorectal cancer will be to identify the cellular switches that trigger tumors to grow. Finding these switches could help lead to medications that keep people from getting colorectal cancer, the release states.
“Once we identify the signaling pathways and understand how the signal is transduced, we may be able to design ways to treat colorectal cancer in obese patients,” Wade said.
Source: National Institutes of Health news release
+ Prevent colon cancer. Request a colonoscopy appointment.
+ Learn more about colorectal cancer and how to prevent this disease.