Eating processed meat can cause colorectal cancer if you have a gene mutation.

geneA new study has revealed that possessing a gene mutation that affects one in three people can increase the risk of colorectal cancer from consuming processed meat. The study was published in the journal of PLOS Genetics and analyzed 18,000 people from the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

The participants included 9,287 patients with colorectal cancer and a control group of 9,1117 individuals without cancer. Scientists systematically searched 2.7 million variants to identify those that are associated with the consumption of meat, fiber, fruits and vegetables.

It was demonstrated that there is a significant interaction between the genetic variant rs4143094 located on a chromosome 10 region and processed meat consumption. The chromosome 10 region contains GATA3, a transcription factor gene previously linked to several forms of cancer, which plays a role in the immune system.

Dr Jane Figueiredo, the lead researcher from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, explained that eating processed meat is generally associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and for about a third of the general population who carry this genetic variant, the risk of eating processed meat is even higher compared to those who do not. “Our results, if replicated by other studies, may provide us with a greater understanding of the biology into colorectal carcinogenesis,” said Dr Ulrike Peters of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Public Health Sciences Division.

“Diet is a modifiable risk factor for colorectal cancer. Our study is the first to understand whether some individuals are at higher or lower risk based on their genomic profile. This information can help us better understand the biology and maybe in the future lead to targeted prevention strategies,” said Dr Figueiredo.


Clint L. Miller, Ulrike Haas, Roxanne Diaz, Nicholas J. Leeper, Ramendra K. Kundu, Bhagat Patlolla, Themistocles L. Assimes, Frank J. Kaiser, Ljubica Perisic, Ulf Hedin, Lars Maegdefessel, Heribert Schunkert, Jeanette Erdmann, Thomas Quertermous, Georg Sczakiel. Coronary Heart Disease-Associated Variation in TCF21 Disrupts a miR-224 Binding Site and miRNA-Mediated Regulation. PLoS Genetics, 2014; 10 (3): e1004263 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004263

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