Your Genetics Play a Role When it Comes to Processed Meat and Cancer Risk
The World Health Organization recently made a bold — and for many, a disappointing — announcement regarding consumption of processed meats and cancer risk.
Twenty-two experts from 10 countries evaluated the accumulated scientific research and concluded that frequent consumption of red and processed meat such as bacon, deli meats and sausage increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent. The amount to increase risk was found to be just 50 grams per day, or the equivalent of 2 slices of baloney.
But how much does your genetic makeup play a role? Perhaps more than you think, according to previous research.
Prior studies have indicated there may be a link between colon cancer and a diet high in red and processed meats, thought to be due to high levels of dietary iron and nitrates. But, according to one study, eating processed meats may promote colon cancer through a genetic susceptibility that lowers the innate immune response.
Research Uncovers a Genetic Variant that Predisposes Individuals to Colon Cancer Progression
A research team from the University of Southern California has released the results of a study at the annual American Society of Human Genetics 2013 meeting that explains how a common genetic variant that affects 1 in 3 people significantly increases the risk of colorectal cancer from the consumption of red meat and processed meat. The scientists identified a gene that raises the risk for colorectal cancer from eating red or processed meat. The study is believed to be the first to identify the interactions of genes and diet on a genome-wide scale.
Lead study author Dr. Jane Figueiredo noted that “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 can help us better understand the biology and maybe in the future lead to targeted prevention strategies.” The researchers examined 9,287 patients with colorectal cancer and a control group of 9,117 individuals without cancer. Additionally, the team systematically searched the more than 2.7 million genetic sequences for interactions with consumption of red and processed meat.
The scientists identified a gene variant known as “rs4143094” that significantly increases the risk of developing colon cancer. The variant is located on a chromosome that has previously been linked with several forms of cancer development. The transcription factor encoded by this gene normally plays a role in the immune system, and the variant discovered prevents optimal detection of aberrant colon cancer cells, leading to increased disease risk. Carries of this genetic variant have been found in 36 percent of the population.
Avoid All Processed Meats and Limit Red Meat Consumption to Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Colon cancer is a particularly deadly form of the disease that is rapidly increasing among those consuming a traditional Western-style diet, which has previously been shown to dramatically raise disease incidence due to a lack of fiber and high intake of sugary, processed carbohydrates.
Dr. Figueiredo concluded, “Colorectal cancer is a disease that is strongly influenced by certain types of diets…. we’re showing the biological underpinnings of these correlations, and understand whether genetic variation may make some people more or less susceptible to certain carcinogens in food, which may have future important implications for prevention and population health.” In addition to past research bodies that have shown increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, this study identifies a genetic component that promotes colon cancer. The study yields yet another reason for the exclusion of processed meats from the diet, especially in genetically susceptible individuals.
John Phillip is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and diet, health and nutrition researcher and author with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives. Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource