In a new study in PLOS Genetics researchers reported that a common gene variant that affects one in 3 people seems to increase the risk of colorectal cancer from the consumption of processed meat. Data from over 9,200 patients with colorectal cancer and over 9,100 controls were pooled. Over 2 million variants were analyzed to find those associated with the consumption of meat, fiber, fruits and vegetables and found a significant interaction between the variant rs4143094 and processed meat consumption. This variant was found on the same chromosome 10 region of another gene that was previously linked to several forms of cancer. Colorectal cancer is a multi-factor disease process that has both genetic caused and lifestyle factors including diet. About 30 known genetic susceptibility alleles for colorectal cancer have been identified but the effect of specific foods on the activities of the genes has not been found.
The researchers said “The possibility that genetic variants may modify an individual’s risk for disease based on diet has not been thoroughly investigated but represents an important new insight into disease development.” They further said”Diet is a modifiable risk factor for colorectal cancer. Our study is the first to understand whether some individuals are at higher or lower risk based on their genomic profile. This information helps us better understand the biology and maybe in the future lead to targeted prevention strategies.”