A new study, whose findings are to be presented at the 2020 European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, has shown an association between the frequency of anaerobic bacterial infections in the blood and an elevated risk of developing a specific type of cancer known as colorectal cancer.
The findings of the study may have important implications in the future as they reveal a new potential tumor marker. Anaerobic bacterial infections can be used as a means for screening and prediction of individuals who are at a high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
In accordance with the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed form among all other cancer types. Nearly ninety percent of the cases occur in adults aged fifty and over.
There are a number of factors that increase the chances of cancer including genetic issues, having a family history of cancer, certain health conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity, a sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise, and a poor diet low in nutritious foods.
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Regardless of the advancements in research on cancer, the number of cases of colorectal cancer is increasing every year. In fact, it has been noted that the form is also being commonly diagnosed in young adults.
A number of studies have linked the increase to changes in lifestyles and more primarily the rise of obesity and poor diets. Therefore, there is a need for new screening mechanisms that can detect any cancerous formations in its early stages with high rates of accuracy.
The new study now highlights anaerobic bacterial infections in the blood as a potential sign of colorectal cancer. A few papers have previously also linked certain types of anaerobic bacteria to the development of colorectal cancer.
Anaerobic bacteria are naturally present inside the body in a number of parts such as the gut. Usually, these bacteria do not pose any threats to health but whenever they do cause infections, they affect the parts where they are present in a majority the most.
In the new research, the scientists looked at anaerobic bacterial infections and their association with colorectal cancer by examining the data of over two million participants from two different parts of Denmark from the year 2007 to the year 2016.
Additionally, data on 45,760 different blood infections were also collected along with the types of infections caused by pathogens present inside the human body.
Then, the data was compared to information from the Danish Colorectal Cancer Group Database in order to look for cases where an individual was given a diagnosis of colorectal cancer after having a blood infection caused by any of the identified anaerobic bacteria in the bloodstream.
In the noted cases of blood infections, around four hundred and ninety-two individuals were also diagnosed with colorectal cancer later on. Furthermore, two hundred and forty-one of these individuals developed cancer within the year they had the blood infection.
After examining the cases of cancer and comparing information, the researchers found the anaerobic bacterial blood infection significantly elevated the risk of having colorectal cancer in the future.
For instance, people with a type of anaerobic bacterial infection known as Clostridium Septicum were at a forty-two times higher risk of developing colorectal cancer in the very next year.
These findings can be important for future screenings of colorectal cancer. However, the co-author of the study, Dr. Ulrik Justesen, and the team agrees the further investigation is required even if the link between the anaerobic bacteria and the cancer is clear.