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Higher number of microplastics in tumoral colon tissues from patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma

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Microplastics have been detected in marine and terrestrial ecosystems, yet the toxic effects of microplastics on living organisms are poorly known. In particular, there is few knowledge on the relationship between microplastic exposure and human cancer. Here we studied the occurrence of microplastics in tumoral and non-tumoral colon tissues of patients diagnosed with colorectal adenocarcinoma, and in colon tissues of subjects not diagnosed with colorectal cancer, as control. Microplastics were analyzed by attenuated total reflection-Fourier-transform infrared and Raman spectroscopies. Results show that the number of microplastics in tumoral colon tissues is higher than the number of microplastics in non-tumoral colon tissues or control. The particle size of microplastics extracted from colon tissues ranges from 1 to 1299 μm. The microplastics included polyethylene, poly(methyl methacrylate), and Nylon (polyamide). Overall, our findings suggest a possible connection between colorectal cancer and microplastic exposure.

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Attenuated total reflection-Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy


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We want to thank Prof. Mine Gülaboğlu for using the laboratory facilities and Prof. Mostafa Abdelaty Hassibelnaby for scientific contribution to the study.


This research did not receive any grant from public or commercial funding agencies.

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Authors and Affiliations



Concept—MC; Design—MC, FDM, NKB; Supervision—MC, FDM, NKB; Resources—MC, FDM, NKB; Materials—MC, FDM, NKB, OC; Data Collection and/or Processing—MC, FDM, NKB, OC, SY, GE, HİG; Analysis and/or Interpretation—MC, FDM, NKB; Literature Search—MC, FDM, NKB; Writing Manuscript—MC, FDM, NKB; Critical Review—MC, FDM, NKB, OC, SY, GE, HİG.

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Correspondence to Nurcan Kilic Baygutalp.

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The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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This study was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Medical Faculty at Ataturk University (Decision Date/No: 17.12.2020/B.30.2.ATA.0.01.00-10-50).

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Cetin, M., Demirkaya Miloglu, F., Kilic Baygutalp, N. et al. Higher number of microplastics in tumoral colon tissues from patients with colorectal adenocarcinoma. Environ Chem Lett 21, 639–646 (2023).

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