Colon Cancer Patients Have Less Diverse Gut Bacteria Interview with:
Jiyoung Ahn, PhD Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Department of Population Health NYU School of Medicine New York, NY 10016Jiyoung Ahn, PhD
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
Department of Population Health
NYU School of Medicine
New York, NY 10016 What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Ahn: Before we did our research, it was suspected that gut bacteria were related to colorectal cancer. We, for the first time, found colorectal cancer patients have a different gut bacteria composition than healthy subjects. Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Ahn: Not really.  Humans host trillions of gut bacteria that help in digestion and other normal functions.  The diverse types of bacteria are important to carry out these activities.  A decrease in diversity may indicate a lack of balance in the complex bacterial  population.  Our research shows that subjects with colon cancer have a less diverse population of gut bacteria.  It will take more research to determine if this decreased diversity leads to colon cancer or is a response to having the disease. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Ahn: This research, although in an early stage, is pointing to the possibility that gut microbes are involved in colon cancer development.  If this is correct, the research could open up new ways to protect from this serious disease.  Beyond our research program, it remains important now to maintain a healthy diet and follow physician recommendations for screening for the early detection of colon cancer. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Ahn: Our group is working on diet and lifestyle factors determining gut microbe profile.  For example, dietary factors, such as dietary fruit and vegetable and bean intakes, rich sources of dietary fiber,  and obesity  are suspected factors.


Human Gut Microbiome and Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Jiyoung Ahn, Rashmi Sinha, Zhiheng Pei, Christine Dominianni, Jing Wu, Jianxin Shi, James J. Goedert, Richard B. Hayes, and Liying Yang

Human Gut Microbiome and Risk of Colorectal Cancer JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst djt300 doi:10.1093/jnci/djt300 first published online December 6, 2013

Last Updated on March 25, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD