Is Colon Cancer Caused by Chronic Inflammation?

Rachel Morrell

colon cancer

We know that certain risk factors increase the likelihood of colon cancer. Age, family history, and personal history of polyps or colon cancer are all risk factors over which we have no control. Then, there are risk factors that we can control such as smoking, alcohol use, sedentary lifestyle and high fat diet. Do you ever wonder HOW those risk factors actually can lead to colon cancer? What is happening physiologically inside the body to initiate abnormal cell division? Is it that one, greasy cheeseburger that pushes your colon over the edge? Or maybe it’s that one day that you decide to stay home and not go to the gym?

Cancer actually begins on the cellular level. Although it may be impossible to know exactly when, where and how cancer begins, scientists are seeking these answers in hopes of adding a new piece to this complex puzzle. It seems that many cases of cancer can be linked to inflammation. Inflammation is a protective response that is initiated when the body encounters pathogens, toxic substances or damaged cells. This immune response is an important part of the body’s defense, but chronic inflammation, which is persistent and unresolved, can contribute to cancer.

These are some of the most recent findings, according to Colon Cancer News Today:

A research team has recently identified a specific type of immune cell as the first step toward developing colon disease. These immune cells called immature myeloid cells are linked to chronic inflammation-associated tumors, which can lead to colon cancer. Dmitry Gabrilovich, M.D., Ph.D., at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, found that a granulocytic immature myeloid cells (IMCs) grow in certain inflammatory conditions that develop into tumors like skin tumors and colon tumors. Dr. Gabrilovich and his research team developed a transgenic mouse that grew IMCs without inflammation. When they exposed the mouse to a tumor-inducing agent, the mice displayed an increase in benign tumors and were more likely to develop skin cancer.

The team discovered that the IMCs “recruited” a specific type of T cells that produce IL-17, a pro-inflammatory, which has already been connected to cancer. Vinit Kumar, Ph.D., a co-author of the study and a member of the Gabrilovich laboratory said, “If we are able to target these graulocytic cells directly, we may be able to prevent the inflammatory effects of IL-17, which would provide a great benefit to individuals with a high risk of developing these types of cancers.”

Discovering more about the origin of colon cancer and finding more effective treatments continues to inspire researchers around the globe. Take time to do your own research about the disease and how you can prevent it. Schedule a colonoscopy, read or write a testimonial or utilize some of our tools to help spread awareness. Thank you for your support!

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