Antibiotic Linked to Rise in Early-Onset Colon Cancer?

 | Post date: 2021/07/7 | 

Exposure to antibiotics appears to be associated with the development of colon cancer, particularly in younger people, and could be contributing to the increase in early onset colorectal cancer (CRC) that is being documented, say UK researchers.

The team conducted a nested case-control study using data from primary care in Scotland, which involved almost 8000 cases of CRC and over 30,000 healthy controls.

The analysis suggests that a history of antibiotic use among individuals younger than 50 appeared to increase the risk of developing colon cancer (but not rectal) by 49%.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to link antibiotic use with the growing risk of early onset colon cancer, a disease which has been increasing at a rate of at least 3% per year over the last two decades," said study presenter Sarah Perrott, a medical student at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

"Junk food, sugary drinks, obesity, and alcohol are likely to have played a part in that rise, but our data stress the importance of avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, especially in children and young adults," Perrott said in a statement.

"We now want to find out if there is a link between antibiotic use and changes in the microbiome which can make the colon more susceptible to cancer especially in younger people," added senior author Leslie Samuel, MD, consultant oncologist at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

"It's a complex situation as we know that the microbiome can quickly revert to its previous state even when the bowel has been cleared out for a diagnostic procedure," Samuel continued.

The research was presented on July 2 at the ESMO World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer 2021.

Commenting for ESMO, Alberto Sobrero, MD, PhD, Medical Oncology Unit, Ospedale San Martino, Genoa, Italy, said that younger patients with colon cancer typically have a worse prognosis than older people because they are generally diagnosed later.



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