There may be a newly discovered cause of colorectal cancer.
Two new studies indicate that a type of gut bacteria located in the mouth can cause colorectal cancer as a result of influencing the immune response and turning on cancer genes. The research team thinks this information could result in more efficient ways to diagnose, treat and possibly prevent colorectal cancer.
The information from the two studies appears in the August 14 issue of the online journal Cell Host & Microbe.
The gut contains trillions of bacteria, which outnumber the number of cells in our bodies. The microbe communities maintain their health by training the immune system and aiding in the digestion of food. The down side is that they could cause disease.
Previous studies have demonstrated that when there is an imbalance, the bacteria could cause colon cancer.
Of all cancers, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death for Americans. The researchers have determined Fusobacteria from the mouth are also plentiful in tissues of colorectal cancer patients.
The first study concluded that Fusobacteria in benign tumors can eventually become cancerous. In mice bred to have a form of colorectal cancer similar to that of humans, the bacteria increased the rate in which tumors formed.
In the second study, it was determined that Fusobacteria utilize a molecule that inhabits the surface of the bacterial cell. It then sticks to and attacks the human colorectal cancer cells.