Gut bacteria linked to colorectal cancer in young people

Colorectal cancer most often affects people over age 50, but it’s on the rise in younger people, who are rarely offered screening to catch these cancers early. Now, a new study hints that microbes found in the tumors of younger and older cancer patients differ, and this could potentially offer new means for early diagnosis.

In new research, published Feb. 1 in the journal eBioMedicine, scientists probed the gut microbiome — the community of microbes that populate the lower digestive tract — in cancer patients of two age groups. They included 136 people under age 50 with a median age of 43 and 140 people over 50 with a median age of 73. The researchers found that distinct sets of bacteria were present in tumors of older and younger people with colorectal cancer.

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