Boffins have discovered a genetic marker that increases a person's risk of colon cancer by 23 percent.
The 10-year study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School and U-M School of Public Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain, the CHS National Israeli Cancer Control Center and Technion - the Israel Institute of Technology, including Stephen Gruber and Gad Rennert.
As part of the study, scientist compared the genetic makeup and family history of more than 1,800 colorectal cancer patients with that of 1,900 healthy people with the same breakdown of age, gender and ethnicity - either Ashkenazi Jew, Sephardic Jew or Arab/non-Jew.
The study found a significant link between genetic variation in a single region of human chromosome 8 and the risk of colorectal cancer.
People who carry the specific genetic variation, the C allele of rs10505477, were found to be 23 percent more likely to have colon cancer than individuals without the marker.
The genetic link between the marker and colon cancer was especially strong among patients diagnosed with colon cancer at a young age, less than 50 years.
"The specific genetic cause for this joint susceptibility to three different cancers has not yet been discovered, but several groups are working to close in on the mechanism that might cause these cancers," Gruber said.
The findings of the study were published in the July issue of Cancer Biology and Therapy.