Health Desk- 02 March, 2020: A common type of gut bacterium may increase a person's chance of developing bowel cancer, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
The bacterium is a type of E. coli infection, present in up to one in five people, scientists believe.
It releases a toxin which experts say can damage the cells that line the bowel, potentially turning some cells cancerous over time.
There are around 42,000 new cases of bowel cancer each year in the UK.
Experts do not yet know how many of these might be linked to the E. coli strain that makes the toxin colibactin.
The researchers suspect it may contribute to a minority of bowel cancer cases - one in 20 or five in every 100 - but more research is needed to confirm the link.
There is no routine test for the bacterium currently, and it is not clear yet that people who have it will be at heightened risk.
In some people it may live in the bowel and cause no issue.
It is not the first infection to be linked with cancer, however. HPV is a virus that causes cervical cancer and H pylori infection is associated with stomach cancer.
Courtesy: BBC Health