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General Health : Diseases Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Variant gene linked to reduced colon cancer risk
By Sue Mueller
Oct 1, 2008 - 8:23:36 AM

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Wednesday October 1, 2008 ( -- U.S. researchers found a link between obesity and colon cancer risk, which could lead to development of a new test with greater accuracy for the disease.

The discovery may also provide some guideline as to how to effectively reduce the risk of developing colon cancer by following obesity-fighting activity like exercise, weight loss and health eating.

Some epidemiological studies have shown an association between adiposity and the risk of incident colorectal cancer.  But how obesity affects the risk of colon cancer is not well understood.

"While there is evidence of an association between circulating adiponectin levels and colorectal cancer risk, no association between genes of the adiponectin pathway and colorectal cancer have been reported to date," the authors wrote.

Boris Pasche, M.D., Ph.D. at the Comprehensive Cancer Center of at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and colleagues found people with a common variant of the gene called ADIPPOQ have a 30 percent reduced risk of colon cancer compared to others.

ADIPOQ directs the production of a fat hormone called adiponectin, which is a protein hormone that modulates a number of metabolic processes, including glucose regulation and fatty acid catabolism.

For the study, Virginia G. Kaklamani, MD, D Sc, lead author, at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago and colleagues tested patients participating in two case-control studies to examine two genes the adiponectin (ADIPOQ) and adiponectin receptor 1 (ADIPOR1) genes and their association with colorectal cancer risk.

The first study involved 441 patients with colorectal cancer and 658 controls; both groups were of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and from New York while the second one included 199 patients with colorectal cancer and 199 controls from Chicago, matched 1:1 for sex, age and ethnicity.

From the first study, the researchers found the variant of the ADIPOQ gene rs266729 was associated with a 28 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer while from the second study, the variant was linked to a 46 percent reduction in colorectal cancer risk.  Together, variant was associated with a 27 percent reduced risk.

The researchers wrote “If these exciting results can be confirmed in other studies, the adiponectin axis may emerge as an important modifier of colorectal cancer risk. Future studies will need to address the potential impact of adiponectin and its SNPs in the prognosis of colorectal cancer and also may be incorporated in genetic risk models for the disease.”

The study appears in the October 1 issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Our hope is that we can significantly improve the screening and early detection for this disease, and open new avenues for better understanding the genetic and lifestyle factors that influence colon cancer risk," said Pasche.

Colon cancer is the third-leading cancer killer in the United States. The disease is expected to be diagnosed in 149,000 people and kill 50,000 each year, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society.

For more information on the study, read

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