Doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found out something important about the food we eat.
They noticed that people who eat a lot of red and processed meat, sugary foods, and refined grains – what we call a “Western-style diet” – are more likely to get colorectal cancer.
And it’s all because of the bacteria that live in our gut. The findings of their research are published in the journal “Gastroenterology”.
This wasn’t just a small study. The doctors looked at data from over 134,000 people. This data came from two big studies that were done all over the U.S.
They studied what people ate and also looked at the DNA of certain bacteria found in more than 1,000 tumors from the colon and rectum.
The Role of Bacteria
The bacteria they were interested in is called Escherichia coli, or E. coli for short. Some types of E. coli have a specific piece of DNA called polyketide synthase, or pks. This pks makes an enzyme that can cause changes in human cells.
Diet and Cancer Risk
After looking at all the data, the doctors found that the Western diet was linked to tumors that had lots of E. coli with pks. But there was no link between this diet and tumors with little to no E. coli with pks.
This is big news because it supports the idea that the Western-style diet can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. It does this by affecting the amount of E. coli with pks in our gut.
This is the first time a study has shown a direct link between the Western diet and certain harmful bacteria in cancer.
But the doctors aren’t done yet. They still have more questions to answer. They want to know which part of the Western-style diet is connected to colorectal cancer that has this specific kind of bacteria.
With more research, they hope to better understand how our diet influences our health and how we can prevent diseases like cancer.
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