Scientists discover how iron levels and a faulty gene cause bowel cancer
Thursday, August 09, 2012
Bowel Cancer UK statement in relation to 'Scientists discover
how iron levels and a fauly gene cause bowel cancer.'
Deborah Alsina, CEO, Bowel Cancer UK said: "This is an exciting
development and could be real breakthrough for helping to reduce
the incidence of bowel cancer. Whilst research needs to be
carried out about how the amount of iron in a person's bowel can be
reduced, it does appear to provide further evidence of just how
important it is for people to have a balanced diet and to keep
their intake of red and processed meat down. We will follow
treatment developments with interest and look forward to further
trials as this could have a real bearing on the prevention of bowel
cancer in the future."
Cancer Research UK press release
SCIENTISTS DISCOVER HOW IRON LEVELS AND A FAULTY GENE CAUSE
HIGH LEVELS of iron could raise the risk of bowel cancer by
switching on a key pathway in people with faults in a critical
anti-cancer gene, according to a study published in Cell Reports*
Cancer Research UK scientists, based at the University of
Birmingham and the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in
Glasgow, found bowel cancers were two to three times more likely to
develop in mice with a faulty APC gene that were fed high amounts
of iron compared to mice who still had a working APC gene.
In contrast, mice with a faulty APC gene fed a diet low in iron
did not develop bowel cancer at all.
The study could also explain why foods such as red meat, which
have high levels of iron, are linked to an increased risk of bowel
When the APC gene is deleted, two proteins are switched on that
cause iron to build up in bowel cells. When this happens, a key
cancer signalling pathway called wnt is switched on, causing cells
to grow out of control.
In mice fed a diet with no iron, cells with a faulty APC gene
were killed and bowel cancers did not develop.
Mice with a fully functioning APC gene did not develop bowel
cancers, even when fed a diet high in iron. In these bowel cells,
the iron accumulation proteins are turned off and wnt signalling