A study carried out by Cleveland Clinic researchers have identified a specific molecular pathway that plays an important role in the link between a high-fat diet and tumor growth in the colon. Although unhealthy eating has been associated with about 80% of colorectal cancer cases, still, the exact mechanism by which foods leads to cancer are not known.
The research team showed in pre-clinical models that cancer stem cell growth in the colon was enhanced by a high-fat, typical Western diet. Cancer stem cells are a subset of resilient, aggressive malignant cells that are believed to be partially responsible for spread and recurrence of cancer.
The team blocked the JAK2-STAT3 cellular signaling pathway, a widely studied pathway known to promote tumor growth, and it was found that the spike in cancer stem cell growth caused by the high-fat diet declined.
The team analyzed human colorectal cancer-free survival data in the Cancer Genome Atlas and evaluated primary and metastasized colorectal cancer specimens via microarray analysis. They also verified the link between high-fat diet and stem cell maintenance in obesity-resistant mice.
Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of death from cancer globally and it causes include a combination of genetic and environmental factors like diet. This study provides more insight on the association between diet and colorectal cancer.
According to co-author of the study, Matthew Kalady, M.D., colorectal surgeon, and Co-Director of the Cleveland Clinic Comprehensive Colorectal Cancer Program, knowledge of these findings can be built upon to develop new treatments aimed at blocking this pathway and reducing the negative impact of a high-fat diet on colon cancer risk.