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Genetic Data May Predict Colon Cancer Odds

Discovery might help people make healthier diet, lifestyle choices, scientists say

FRIDAY, Jan. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Areas of deleted genetic data in key DNA may prove to be a biomarker that predicts whether a person will develop colon cancer, a new study finds.

These "hot spots" in the AMACR gene, found in human tissue, may also show how aggressive the cancer could be, according to the report in the Jan. 16 issue of PLoS Genetics.

"From the colon tissues, we've identified two types of genetic deletions that may allow us to predict whether people will have a good or bad cancer outcome," study first author Xiang Zhang, a University of Cincinnati environmental health research associate, said in a news release issued by the school. "If a person carries one of the deletions, it may predispose him or her to a more aggressive type of colon cancer."

AMACR breaks down certain fatty acids (known as "branch chained") that are found only in plant-eating animals. Red meat and dairy products, then, can contain these plant-derived fatty acids, which can hasten cancer development and growth, previous research has found.

The researchers said that such genetic findings could assist people in making healthier lifestyle choices.

"For years, scientists have believed that a diet including a large amount of red meat and low in fiber may lead to increased risk for colon cancer, but it's not that linear," study senior author Shuk-mei Ho, chairwoman of the University of Cincinnati's environmental health department, said in the same news release. "We need to start paying closer attention to how the environment we live in and the things we put in our bodies interact with our genetic makeup to influence our cancer risk."

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colon cancer.

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, news release, Jan. 15, 2009

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: University of Cincinnati, news release, Jan. 15, 2009

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