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Foods that trigger colon cancer among young people

A study by scientists at the University of Cincinnati shows elevated levels of five bacteria linked to less healthy diets.

Laboratorio científico
humberto bilbaoEuropa Press

A group of researchers from the University of Cincinnati in the United States has carried out a study to discover the reasons why, since 2009, colorectal cancer has increased by 2% each year in those under 50 years of age. The results show a pattern that is repeated among patients.

Colon cancer pattern

That pattern is elevated microbial species in young patients. “When I started the practice and residency around 2010, I rarely saw patients who were under the age of 50. But increasingly we are seeing these patients in our clinics to the point where it does not seem like an exception to the rule,” says Jorsan Kharofa, one of the leaders of the study, which has been presented in American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers wondered if cancer-causing bacteria in the human body's microbiome were higher, especially in younger colorectal cancer patients. To conduct the study, they used genetic data from 11 previous studies and analyzed the microbiome of 609 healthy patients and 692 patients with colon cancer.

Diets with processed meats and liquors

The results: Two of the bacteria most associated with colorectal cancer were found not to be found at high levels in young patients, but another five bacteria were found to be at high levels among people under 50 years. These bacteria are associated with a diet high in processed meats, low-calorie beverages, and spirits. It is also associated with diets low in fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

“Although these patients are not obese, there may be dietary patterns that occur early in life that enrich certain bacteria like this. It is not that what you are eating has carcinogens, but that the by-products produced during the metabolism of bacteria can give rise to carcinogenic chemicals, ”says Kharofa.

The scientist has already pointed out that more research is still needed on the subject, but that the study “is a small advance” of the relationship between diet and this type of cancer: “There is still much that we do not understand about how diet influences in the microbiome and how that might influence cancer, but this is a small preview of something that might be going on. There are many reasons to eat less processed foods and diets rich in raw fruits, vegetables and legumes, and this could be one more.”


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