Colorectal cancer on the rise

Research suggests that gut microbiome is linked to colorectal cancer

Cancer has been an increasingly major threat to citizens since the 1990s, when unhealthy lifestyles and exposure to toxins began to escalate. Although many factors, such as smoking, drugs, and alcohol have been directly linked to cancer, new research suggests that colorectal cancer may depend on the microbes that live in the human gut. This microbiome of bacteria is an essential part of our digestive system, and when it is disturbed, it could cause a tumor to grow. As the number of colorectal cancer cases soar in younger patients, experts advocate for the importance of gut health.

Most cancers have a mix of risk factors, however, colorectal cancer is limited to those that affect the microenvironment of the digestive system. A disruption in the typically well-balanced biotics of the colon can cause inflammation. These imbalances are linked to countless conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, liver diseases, and pancreatic diseases. Chronic inflammation has been associated with the initial growth, as well as the facilitated development of malignant tumors. Interestingly, the gut microbiome directly affects a person’s mood and cognition. Chronic pain is also correlated with poor gut health, inflammation, and nutrient malabsorption. Although cancers are genetic malfunctions in the cells and are possible in even the healthiest of people, risk factors are largely elevated in areas where Western diets are most common.

Individuals with preexisting inflammatory diseases of the colon, a family history of colorectal cancer, and those with familial adenomatous polyposis (an inherited condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract) are at a predisposition of developing colorectal cancer. Even so, countless lifestyle factors will disregulate the gut microbiome, including lack of exercise, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, a low-fibre and high-fat diet, eating a lot of processed meats, obesity, alcohol consumption, and tobacco use. Usage of any drug that decreases probiotics in the gut, such as antibiotics, will disrupt the microbiome as well. Those consuming a Western diet can lack crucial nutrients, be exposed to harmful toxins, and promote inflammation in the gut. Increasing sedentary lifestyles is causing a lack of balanced gut microbiome and encouraging inflammation. When cells in the digestive system are being consistently damaged or destroyed by these factors, the body is constantly attempting to replace them. Each time they undergo this orderly process, there is a small chance that they will form abnormally and multiply when they are not supposed to. If unmanaged, the process can form a harmful tumor that may spread its genetic faults to other parts of the body.

Colorectal cancer can have multiple key indicators, but like any cancer, there have also been asymptomatic cases reported. Red flags include an unusual change in bowel habits, a feeling that the bowel has not completely emptied, abdominal bloating, cramping and pain, weight loss, anemia, and blood in the stool. Many of these signs can be linked to other digestive conditions, however, if the symptoms are concerningly persistent, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor about a cancer screening. While colonoscopies are typically done in patients over 50 years of age, the surge in young adults with colorectal cancer may urge doctors to take precautions if necessary. Educating citizens on how to improve their overall lifestyle, in addition to ensuring a happy and healthy gut, could save many lives.

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