Gene is linked to colon cancer when folate's low

Mar 29, 2011 By Stephanie Salato

(PhysOrg.com) -- Cornell researchers report that they have identified a gene that increases the risk for colon cancer in laboratory mice when their diets lack folate.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. More than 50,000 people die each year in this country from colon cancer, many due to a lack of early detection.

The new study, published in the March 15 issue of the journal Cancer Research (71:6), provides evidence that a combination of folate deficiency and reduced expression of the SHMT1 gene, which is required for accurate DNA synthesis, boosts the risk of colon cancer in a . The study indicates that the SHMT1 gene may be a factor in itself, and also demonstrates how dietary folate, a B vitamin, may interact with an individual's genetic make-up to increase colon cancer risk. The same researchers implicated this gene as a cause of , a common class of (see story).

"Nutrition and genetics work together to contribute to the creation of , and based on the similarity of folate metabolism in mice and humans; it is likely that this gene is associated with human colon cancer, "said Patrick Stover, professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences and the senior author of the paper.

In the study, Stover and Cornell colleagues found that the interactions among nutrients and play an important role in the development of numerous cancers, including colorectal cancer.

"Molecular antecedents that promote development of sporadic colon cancer include . Lack of critical nutrients (such as folate) increases rates of DNA damage. Therefore, lack of folate has the potential to induce this damage that ultimately results in the progression of risk," said Stover.

Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended to all individuals over age 50; however, close to 40 percent of the U.S. population in this age group does not take this precautionary method. Individuals who choose not to pursue colonoscopies may want to ensure that their diets contain adequate amounts of folate, Stover recommended. The U.S. recommended daily allowance for folate is 400 micrograms per day. Foods that are rich in folate include many fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Explore further: Team finds mutations expressed within melanoma tumors that predict effective responses to a groundbreaking immunotherapy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gene causing birth defects in mice discovered

Mar 16, 2011

Cornell researchers report that they have identified a gene that causes neural tube defects (NTDs) in laboratory mice. NTDs, also known as spina bifida and anencephaly, are one of the most common birth defects in the United ...

Knowing Risk Factors Can Prevent Colon Cancer

Jul 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Colorectal cancer is the third biggest cancer killer in the United States, killing an estimated 50,000 people every year, according to the American Caner Society.

Do everyday foods influence risk of prostate cancer?

Dec 18, 2007

The biggest ever study on the effect of folate and vitamin B12 on prostate cancer is set to go ahead at Bristol University after World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) announced it would fund the project.

Recommended for you

The STING of radiation

2 hours ago

A team of researchers led by Ludwig Chicago's Yang-Xin Fu and Ralph Weichselbaum has uncovered the primary signaling mechanisms and cellular interactions that drive immune responses against tumors treated with radiotherapy. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.