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Can E. Coli Cause Cancer?

Updated on August 17, 2012
People with colorectal cancer were found to be more likely than healthy people to harbor E. coli containing pks bacteria. “PKS” are in strains of E. coli that contain a set of genes known as "the pks island" that have been implicated in pathways that
People with colorectal cancer were found to be more likely than healthy people to harbor E. coli containing pks bacteria. “PKS” are in strains of E. coli that contain a set of genes known as "the pks island" that have been implicated in pathways that

E. coli - Good Bug, or Bad Bug?

New findings suggest toxin-producing microbes in the gut could lead to cancer, according to research published in Science.

People with colorectal cancer were found to be more likely than healthy people to harbor E. coli containing pks bacteria. “PKS” are in strains of E. coli that contain a set of genes known as "the pks island" that have been implicated in pathways that cause DNA damage. They are found in a common gut bacterium. New research indicates that an ordinarily harmless strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli) containing pks often can cause colon cancer when the gut is inflamed.

Researchers have known for decades microbes can cause cancer. Notwithstanding the above, Dr. J. Christopher Anderson, an assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley wants to remodel and use Escherichia coli (E. coli) to fight cancerous tumors. Dr. Anderson’s project pioneers unchartered territory in the use of therapeutic bacteria. Given this area of study there may be the possibility of E. coli causing colorectal cancer

Dr Barry Campbell, co-author of the research at the University of Liverpool, said: "The research suggests that E. Coli has a much wider involvement in the development of colon cancer than previously thought. It is important to build on these findings to understand why this type of bacteria, containing the pks genes, is present in some people and not others."

What’s UP?

Is E. coli a good bug or a bad bug? It depends on the holistic, macro bio environment. As noted in my article: “What is a Human Ecosystem?”

http://dallas93444.hubpages.com/hub/What-is-Human-Ecosystem wherein it was noted the Homeostasis (Balance) of Bugs: the Key to Our Health. A significant disturbance in the human body can profoundly alter the makeup of otherwise stable microbial communities co-existing within it and that changes in the internal ecology known as the human microbiome can result in unexpected and drastic consequences for human health.

Inflammation disturbs gut ecosystems leading to conditions that allow pathogens to invade the gut. These pathogens may damage host cells increasing the risk of the development of colorectal cancer. There appears to be a clear connection between the physiological condition of intestinal inflammation and a subsequent change in microbial communities in the gut.

Christian Jobin, a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describes this E.coli relationship as, ““They're not exactly your flagship disease-causing bacteria. They wear a different mask. They wear the bad-guy mask now.”

Related Articles:

http://dallas93444.hubpages.com/hub/DNA-Does-Not-Determine-Entire-Genetic-Fate

http://dallas93444.hubpages.com/hub/Nice-Germs-Finish-Last

http://dallas93444.hubpages.com/hub/Gene-Soup-the-DNA-Neighborhood-Makes-a-Difference

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    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      GusTheRedneck ,

      I agree with your statement. Glad you lived to share your experience. Your wisdom shows! :-)

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Michele Travis,

      You bring a valid important point... I am sure you will research further.

      Thanks for your comments.

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      FitnezzJim ,

      E. coli is ubiquitous. It is used in our "guts" for a good purpose. E. coli is like most other bugs/things. If in balance everything is OK. There is a body ecosystem wherein everything must be "balanced" for the best for the good...

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      femmeflashpoint,

      I agree this is not a dinner-time subject! However one must be aware and alert. Always appreciate your input and comments. Thanks!

    • dallas93444 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dallas W Thompson 

      6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Add Yourteaches12345

      My opinion processed food has no cause and effect on E. coli. I think "natural" food is better however!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      6 years ago from USA

      In answer to your title question - "Yes," but only if e.coli manages to somehow alter your DNA into a cancer-prompting mutation. In the meantime, however, e-coli is a rather ordinary intestinal bug that gets to be a really bad actor when it relocates to places in the body other than where it typically hangs out. However, there are also some e-coli varieties that have a really mean streak such that they will try to gobble you up no matter where they may be.

      Long ago, when the navy was mothering me, e-coli got into a wound and tried to finish me off. Took all sorts of time and every med known to mankind to get rid of the bug. Inherited close to 40 steel "stitches" thanks to e-coli. Bad bug, that one!

      Gus :-)))

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 

      6 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      This is an important hub for me. Both of my parents died from colon cancer. My mom when she was 65 and my dad when he was 67. I also inherited epilepsy from my mom, so we know that physical problems can be inherited. Perhaps the chance of the body not being able to defend itself from colon cancer can also be inherited. I am going to look into this.

      Thanks again for sharing this important hub.

      Voted up

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 

      6 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      So what can we do to minimize our chances of contact with E.Coli ? Prepare our own foods? Never eat out? Cook everything thouroughly? Is htere anyhting that cna be done to minimize the possibility of PKS?

    • profile image

      femmeflashpoint 

      6 years ago

      Dallas,

      You've finally navigated to what could easily be tagged as one of my least favorite subject matters.

      It's a great hub, regardless of triggering my GAK-reflex. This is the sort of information everyone should be aware of whether it's appealing or not.

      femme

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      Interesting hub topic on E Coli. It seems that the increase of exposure to this is rising due to processing of foods and contamination. Have you seen the movie Contamination? It is scary to think that this may be a possibility. Thanks for the information.

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