Medical researchers had always known there was a link between obesity and the risks of colorectal cancer, but they had not been able to establish this association – until now. The study was carried by scientists from Thomas Jefferson University and published in the journal Cancer Research.
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The interesting thing about this study is that while establishing the exact links between obesity and colorectal cancer, the researchers were also able to identify an approved drug that should stop the chances of cancer resulting when applied as treatment.
The medical investigators carried out their experiments on lab mice, finding that high calorie diet switched off a particular intestinal hormone in a manner that deactivated a tumor suppressor pathway.
When the lost hormone was replaced, the researchers discovered that the tumor suppressor pathway was switched back on and barred onset of cancer, regardless of the fact that the investigated mice ate excess calories.
In this situation, the researchers found that the pill linaclotide or Linzess – which is pharmacologically similar to the lost hormone can be applied to prevent the development of colorectal cancer in obese patients, stated Scott Waldman, Chair of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University.
Linaclotide was in 2012 approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of worrisome bowel syndrome with constipation and chronic constipation from unknown causes.
Dr. Waldman revealed that his team’s findings showed that hormone replacement therapy such as the use of linaclotide could be used to prevent development of colorectal cancer in obese persons – in much the way diabetes can be treated with insulin replacement in certain diabetics.
Waldman said researchers are surprised with their discovery – having been eager for decades to explain the link between obesity and colorectal cancer. "Calories sit in the middle of these two conditions, but the question of what they were doing has been one of the most perplexing and provocative questions in cancer research.”
Also a Samuel MV Hamilton Professor, Waldman disclosed that the investigators are now able to understand the origin of colorectal cancer in obese patients and maybe in other persons as well.
Compared to lean people, the research team stated that obese individuals face 50% higher risks of developing colorectal cancer.
The research was conducted with researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic, and Fox Chase Cancer Center; and the team also included investigators from Harvard and Duke Medical Schools – who used genetically engineered mice on different diets to conduct their investigation.
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The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Harvard Digestive Diseases Center, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, SAP, and Targeted Diagnostic and Therapeutics, Inc.