So far, stool samples or colonoscopies have been the only ways to detect colorectal cancer in its early stages. This may change in the future. Evidence is provided by an international study conducted by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany (see also http://www.gesunde-bakterien.de/en/crucial-bacteria-how-the-gut-determines-our-lives/), in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen. Researchers found that the microbiome in the gut of patients with colorectal cancer was markedly different from that of healthy people. In total, they examined gut flora of 768 participants from Europe, Japan, China, and the United States. Roughly one half of them suffered from colorectal cancer.
Among cancer patients, 29 bacterial species were more prevalent than in the gut microbiome of healthy participants. In addition, the patients’ microbiome showed an increased number of bacteria which metabolize fat and amino acids. Less prevalent, however, were the bacteria necessary for metabolizing non-refined, i.e. complex carbohydrates.
This may be evidence of a possible link between colorectal cancer and diet. Unhealthy diets rich in meat and fats with few fibers – already an established risk factor for colorectal cancer – may lead to changes in the gut flora which make the emergence of cancer more likely.
Based on these results, scientists hope to find an alternative method to detect colorectal cancer during cancer screenings. In exemplary tests using microbiome analysis, they were able to determine the existence of colorectal cancer with 80 percent precision – similar to the predictive precision of current stool tests for occult blood.
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