Two types of bacteria commonly found in the gut work together to fuel the growth of colon tumors, researchers reported on Thursday. Their study, published in the journal Science, describes what may be a hidden cause of colon cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States. The research also adds to growing evidence that gut bacteria modify the body’s immune system in unexpected and sometimes deadly ways.
The findings suggest that certain preventive strategies may be effective in the future, like looking for the bacteria in the colons of people getting colonoscopies.
If the microbes are present, the patients might warrant more frequent screening; eventually people at high risk for colon cancer may be vaccinated against at least one of the bacterial strains.