How obesity promotes colorectal cancer

shutterstock_131375909Scientists discovered a biological relation between obesity and colorectal cancer. In addition to this, they have identified a drug that might prevent the development of colorectal cancer. The researchers found that obesity is associated with a decrease of the human Guanylin in the intestines. This decrease leads to deactivation of a tumor suppressor pathway. Compared to lean people, morbidly obese people have an 80% lower Guanylin gene expression. When Guanylin is absent, the receptor, which functions as a growth-controlling tumor suppressor, is silenced. This leads to dysfunctional growth of epithelium and creates circumstances for the development of cancer.

Linaclotide, a drug that is structurally related to Guanylin, could be used as prevention for the development of colorectal cancer in obese patients, according to the researchers. In addition, they found that caloric restriction can reverse the loss of Guanylin, which suggests that lifestyle changes could play a part in the prevention of colorectal cancer.

This article is interesting for doctors who frequently see obese patients, or patients with fear or high risk of (colorectal) cancer. Especially the finding that loss of guanylin is reversible when the caloric intake is restricted, and therefore reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, might be a strong argument for obese patients to change their lifestyles.

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