MSN highlights UC research on diet and colorectal cancer risk in young people

As colorectal cancer cases in patients under 50 have steadily increased over the past decade, researchers are continuing to search for causes for the increase.

MSN recently highlighted the work of the University of Cincinnati's Jordan Kharofa, MD, who led a team that analyzed microbiome data from colorectal cancer patients and healthy control patients to see if certain bacteria were elevated and leading to higher cancer rates in young people.

The team found one species of bacteria was elevated that is associated with a sulfur microbial diet. This diet is high in processed meats and low in raw fruits, vegetables and legumes.

“Although these patients aren’t obese, there may be dietary patterns that happen early in life that enrich for certain bacteria such as this one,” said Kharofa, associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology in the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine, a University of Cincinnati Cancer Center member and a UC Health physician. “It’s not that what you’re eating has carcinogens in them, but the byproducts produced during bacteria metabolism may lead to carcinogenic chemicals. It’s possible that interactions between diet and the microbiome may mediate the formation of colorectal cancer cells and heightened risk in younger populations over the last several decades.” 

Further research is needed, but Kharofa said young people could eat more raw fruits and vegetables and legumes and less processed meats to potentially lower their risk of colorectal cancer.

Read the MSN story in English.

Read the MSN story in Spanish.

Read more about the research.

Featured photo at top of colorectal cancer cells courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.