In a new study, researchers found a common oral bacteria in tooth decay could accelerate the growth of colon cancer.
The research was conducted by researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
Colon cancer is the cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the final part of your digestive tract.
Patients often experience a change in bowel movements, weight loss, blood in the stool, and long-term fatigue.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
Previous studies showed that cancer is caused by genetic mutations that accumulate over a decade.
However, genetic mutations can just explain part of colon cancer cases. Microbes may also play a role.
For example, one recent study showed that bacteria and cell stress could lead to colon cancer.
It showed bacteria in the intestines could play a role in the development of intestinal inflammation. With stress in cells, tumors could grow.
Additionally, some studies showed that 33% of colon cancers are linked to a common oral bacterium. In these cancer cases, the disease became very aggressive.
In a previous study of the team, they found this the bacterium could trigger a process in colon cells that found in several cancers.
In addition, the process only stimulates the growth of cancer cells, not healthy cells.
In the current study, the team found healthy colon cells lack a protein that could stimulate cancer growth.
The oral bacterium could increase the production of this protein.
When the protein was disabled, the team could prevent oral bacterium from binding to the cancer cells and slow down their growth.
The results showed that oral bacterium and the protein form a loop that could make colon cancer more aggressive.
Based on their findings, the team provides a new explanation of the growth of colon cancer:
Genetic mutations start first, then the oral bacterium accelerates the cancer signaling pathway and speeding tumor growth.
The findings show why some colon cancers advance far more quickly than others. The results also make it easier to diagnose and treat aggressive colon cancers.
The new findings may help develop new treatments for aggressive colon cancer and other types of cancer.
The lead author of the study is Yiping W. Han, Ph.D., professor of microbial sciences.
The study is published in EMBO Reports.
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