, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 53-54
Date: 21 Sep 2007

Gut health, genetics and personalised nutrition

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Diseases of the alimentary tract are major sources of morbidity and mortality across the globe. The gut is particularly prone to cancers, many of which show striking geographical variations in incidence. For example, colorectal cancer is one of the three most common causes of death from cancer in industrialised western countries, but it is strikingly rare in the less developed world. That this is due primarily to environmental rather than genetic factors is clear from the fact that the age-adjusted risk of colorectal cancer rises inexorably as industrialisation and prosperity increase, and the fact that migrants from countries with a low incidence rapidly acquire the disease incidence typical of the population that they join. It is estimated that around 80% of sporadic colorectal cancer is caused by environmental factors, which remain poorly understood. Amongst these, diet and physical activity seem to be particularly important.

Within populations at high risk of colorectal cancer, the