Cancer Studies Both Find Link Between Bacteria and Colon Cancer
Two cancer studies have found a type of bacteria that cause dental decay and skin ulcers to possibly be linked to bowel cancer.
The two research teams have discovered the pathogen 'Fusobacterium' in bowel cancer tumors.
They say it's not yet clear if the bug might cause cancerous changes or whether it is just an incidental finding, TIME reports.
If the bacterium is found to be responsible, the teams say antibiotics might be able to treat it and prevent cancer.
The two studies looked at more than 100 samples of healthy and cancerous bowel tissue and found the presence of the bug.
They discovered the link by analyzing genetic material in tumor samples. They then subtracted human genes from the mix, until only microbe genes remained.
Dr. Robert A. Holt, a genomics researcher at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, had long wondered whether colon cancer was caused, or driven further along, by a bacterial infection.
Remembering that cancers of the liver, stomach and cervix have all been linked to microbes, Holt realized the number of microbial cells in the colon outnumber human cells there by a ratio of at least nine to one.
Holt and another group of researchers, working independently, discovered that one species of bacterium never particularly prevalent in the colon seems to be present in colon cancers.