Friday, October 10, 2014

Hormone loss could trigger colon cancer

Guanylin plays a role in replenishing
skin cells lining the gut. (Illustration
from Wikipedia) 
CANCER DIGEST – Oct. 10, 2014 – Lack of a hormone may be linked to colon cancer, a laboratory study has shown. If confirmed, it would be the first time a cancer has been linked to hormone loss, which could lead to hormone replacement therapy to prevent colon cancer.

The hormone guanlyn is produced by normal colon cells and activates a receptor called GUCY2C (pronounced "goosy toosy" by researchers). The activation of GUC2YC signaling is critical to helping replenish the skin cells lining the gut and maintaining their overall function. People over 50 years old tend to produce much less of the hormone in their normal colon cells, which could help explain the increase in colon cancer risk in older individuals. The study was published online Oct. 10 in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

In the study the researchers examined colon cancer samples from 281 patients and compared those tissues to nearby colon tissue that wasn't cancerous. They found that guanylin production decreased 100 to 1,000 times in more than 85 percent of colon cancers tested. When they verified their results with stained slices of the tumors they could detect no guanylin hormone in the cancer samples.

"The fact that the vast majority of cancers stop producing this hormone leads us to believe that guanylin may be driving the growth of the tumors," senior author Scott Waldman, M.D., Ph.D., said in a press release. "We could prevent colon cancer by giving patients hormone replacement therapy with guanylin."

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