Researchers have made a big connection between intestinal inflammation (caused by Crohn’s, colitis, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease) and cancer. This discovery could not only prevent cancer but help in detecting the disease – potentially before it causes so much damage to the body.

According to Science Daily, the study was conducted on mice at UCLA and reported in this week’s Cancer Research journal. Scientists found intestinal inflammation causes damage to DNA – but not just to the intestine, but anywhere in the body. That damaged area can have an increased risk of developing cancer, researchers say.

“The chromosome damage in the peripheral circulating blood could be used as a biomarker to identify those with intestinal inflammation before they show symptoms…In the study, the chromosome damage could be detected in the blood before the onset of colitis…”– Science Daily

In other words, “The chromosome damage may be the ‘earliest detectable indicator’ of intestinal inflammatory diseases,” says Dr. Jonathan Braun, who’s one of the study’s authors and a professor and chairman of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UCLA. Making this discovery could potentially help people find out they have celiac, colitis, Crohn’s before we see symptoms or damage to health.

Ultimately this research was done to find ways to prevent cancer. It is researchers’ hopes that by detecting the intestinal inflammation, they can prevent the cancer. But in the extra bonus for us, is they could possibly be able to find diseases like celiac even earlier.

“Patients come to us with abdominal complaints and we can’t tell if they are inflammatory, obstructive or a bacterial overgrowth,” said Braun in Science Daily. “At present the only way to diagnose the patients is to do full endoscopic examinations, which are both invasive and expensive.”

Science Daily goes on to say,

“In principle, Braun said, this biomarker blood test could replace the invasive endoscopic exam and allow physicians to identify smoldering inflammatory disease before it becomes full blown. ‘This may give us the opportunity to ward off the disease early and avoid the subsequent organ damage. This could change the natural history of these diseases.'”

The research gave no resolution, but researchers are conducting clinical trials to confirm their findings in humans. Ultimately this study brings us one step closer to understanding how one problem with the body can lead to so many other issues; and if medicine treats the source, you may not need to treat the bad stuff that can come later like celiac, Crohn’s or even possibly cancer.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America helped fund this study.

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