It is now well established that to prevent the colorectal cancer be better moderate consumption of red meat, but what scientists still could not explain was the way in which the mutation of cells was generated.
A new study has identified specific patterns that damage DNA and are triggered by diets rich in red meat, further implicating food as a carcinogen, heralding the possibility of early cancer detection and designing new, more targeted therapies.
There Research was published in the magazine Cancer Discovery.
Here’s what the new study says between the link of colorectal cancer and the consumption of red meat
Previous studies had noted that the link was purely epidemiological, which means that individuals who developed the condition were questioned about their eating habits and researchers identified associations with colorectal cancer incidence. But the lack of clarity on biology meant the case wasn’t entirely clear, and in 2019, a team of researchers made a sensation when they said they only had a “bass”Degree of certainty that reducing consumption would prevent cancer deaths.
“When we say that red meat is carcinogenic and that it has an impact on the incidence of colorectal cancer, there must be a plausible way in which it does “, the oncologist of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Marios Giannakis, who led the new study. To bridge the knowledge gap, Giannakis and his colleagues sequenced DNA data from 900 colorectal cancer patients, which were chosen from a much larger group of 280,000 healthcare professionals who participated in years-long studies that included lifestyle surveys.
The analysis revealed a bill mutational signature, a pattern that had never been identified before, but was indicative of a type of DNA damage called “alkylation“. Not all cells containing these mutations will necessarily become cancerous, and the signature was also present in some healthy colon samples.
The mutation signature was significantly associated with the intake of red meat, both processed and unprocessed, prior to the patient’s diagnosis of colorectal cancer. but not with the intake of poultry, fish or other lifestyle factors examined: “With red meat, there are chemicals that can cause alkylation “Giannakis explained. Specific compounds are nitrous compounds that can be obtained from heme, which is abundant in red meat, as well as nitrates, which are often found in processed meat.
The mutation patterns were strongly associated with the distal colon, the lower part of the intestine leading to the anal canal. which is where past research suggested it to occur mainly colon cancer linked to red meat. Additionally, among the genes that were most affected by alkylation patterns were those that previous research has shown are among the most common factors in colorectal cancer when they mutate. Taken together, the multiple lines of evidence build a compelling argument, Giannakis said, likening the research to careful detective work.
In this case, the signature of the suspected mutation has a lot to answer for: i patients whose tumors had the highest levels of alkylation damage had a 47% higher risk of colorectal cancer specific death than patients with the lowest damage levels. But Giannakis, also a practicing physician, said it’s important to focus on how research can be used to help patients.
Future work could help doctors identify which patients are genetically predisposed to buildup of alkylation damage, then advise them to limit their red meat intake. Identifying patients who have already started accumulating the mutational signature could help identify who is at greater risk of developing cancer or contracting the disease at an earlier stage. And since the amount of alkylation damage appears to be a biomarker of patient survival, it could be used to inform patients of their prognosis.
Finally, understanding the biological pathway through which colorectal cancer occurs paves the way for drugs that interrupt or reverse the process, preventing the disease.
Giannakis pointed out that the takeaway message is not that people should totally abstain from red meat: “My recommendation would be that moderation and a balanced diet are essential “. High levels of tumor alkylation damage were only observed among patients who ate on average more than 150 grams (five ounces) per day, roughly equal to two or more servings.