In a new study, researchers found the nuances of sex differences and lifestyle influences on colon cancer risk.
They found sedentary lifestyle, a high-fat diet, and being male increase the risk of colon cancer.
Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and death rates among people younger than 55 have been steadily increasing.
The American Cancer Society had estimated that about 53,200 people would die from colorectal cancer in 2020, including 3,640 adults younger than 50.
A better understanding of the factors that contribute to colon cancer and the mechanisms behind protective factors could help address this trend.
In the study, the team compared an inflammatory marker associated with colon cancer risk in both male and female mice on a control diet. At baseline, males showed higher levels of this inflammatory marker.
Next, they provided mice unlimited access to an exercise wheel. After 12 weeks of exercise, the males’ inflammation marker dropped to equal that of the females.
Researchers then introduced a high-fat diet. The high-fat diet increased inflammation in both sexes. Interestingly, when a high-fat diet was combined with exercise, only females showed a reduction in gut inflammation.
Further examination of colon tissue through a clinical measure called the proliferation index reinforced these findings.
A higher proliferation index score indicates the greater the risk of disease. Females scored nearly 15% lower than males. Similarly, exercise reduced index scores by more than 30%.
Taken together these findings suggest that males respond poorly to high-fat diet, causing inflammation and increased cell proliferation, making them at greater risk for colon cancer.
If you care about colon cancer, please read studies about common high blood pressure drugs may lower colon cancer risk and findings of a new way to diagnose colon cancer.
For more information about colon cancer and your health, please see recent studies about aspirin may stop colon cancer growth and recurrence and results showing that these gut bacteria may increase colon cancer risk.
The study was presented at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) New Trends in Sex and Gender Medicine conference.
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