Page URL:

One in three carry gene variant that increases bowel cancer risk

6 May 2014
Appeared in BioNews 752

A genetic variant carried by one in three people further raises the risk of bowel cancer for people who eat a lot of processed meat, a study has found.

Bowel cancer is influenced by a variety of genetic and lifestyle factors and frequent consumers of processed meat were already known to be at a greater risk of developing the disease.

In order to find out how common genetic variants might influence bowel cancer risk, scientists pooled data from ten diet studies involving around 9,000 colorectal cancer patients and a similar number of controls.

They scanned the data, looking for any effects of 2.7 million common variants on bowel cancer risk and detected a significant interaction between the variant 'rs4143094' and processed meat consumption.

Compared with people whose diet included little or no processed meat, the heaviest consumers were more than twice as likely to develop bowel cancer if they carried the 'worst' version of the variant.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer in the UK. Figures from Cancer Research UK show that in 2010 there were 65 new cases of bowel cancer for every 100,000 people.

'Diet is a modifiable risk factor for colorectal cancer', said the study's first author Dr Jane Figueiredo of the University of Southern California. 'Our study is the first to understand whether some individuals are at higher or lower risk based on their genomic profile. This information can help us better understand the biology and maybe in the future lead to targeted prevention strategies'.

The variant is located on the same region of chromosome 10 that also houses GATA3, a gene involved in the immune system which has been shown to be mutated in several forms of cancer.

The researchers think that the variant's proximity to GATA3 might explain its influence on bowel cancer risk. In the paper they say that 'a plausible though speculative biological basis for our findings is that processed meat triggers a [cancer-inducing] inflammatory or immunological response'.

The study was published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Gene increases cancer risk posed by processed meat
Telegraph |  18 April 2014
Gene increases meat-eaters' cancer risk
Sydney Morning Herald |  18 April 2014
Gene variant makes eaters of processed meat 'more likely to get colorectal cancer'
Medical News Today |  18 April 2014
Genome-Wide Diet-Gene Interaction Analyses for Risk of Colorectal Cancer
PLOS Genetics |  17 April 2014
New gene variant found increases the risk of colorectal cancer from eating processed meat
EurekAlert! (press release) |  17 April 2014
25 January 2016 - by Dr Hannah Somers 
Scientists in the USA have identified a biomarker that could predict which patients with colon cancer might benefit from chemotherapy to prevent recurrences of the disease after surgical treatment....
23 March 2015 - by Rhys Baker 
Whether or not aspirin reduces a person's risk of bowel cancer could all be down to their genetic make-up, according to a US study...
24 March 2014 - by Daryl Ramai 
A stool-sample DNA test has detected 92 percent of colon cancers in a large clinical trial, compared to 74 percent picked up by the most commonly used non-invasive test...
4 March 2013 - by Reuben Harwood 
Losing genes that help stabilise a cells DNA may explain why some cancers are resistant to treatment, say scientists...
29 October 2012 - by Purvi Shah 
Regular use of aspirin may extend the lives of colon cancer patients whose tumour carries a specific gene mutation, scientists report...
13 August 2012 - by Cait McDonagh 
A faulty gene linked to bowel cancer interacts with dietary iron to significantly increase the risk of developing the disease, research on mice suggests...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.