UVA researchers now know why colon cancer disproportionately affects African Americans

UVA Health System Sign.
UVA Health System Sign.(NBC29)
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 5:48 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - For years, medical researchers have tried to understand why African Americans are more likely to develop and die from colon cancer than other groups of people. Now, researchers at UVA Health know why.

Dr. Li, a cancer researcher, is among several others who discovered that parts of the colon in African Americans age faster than other racial groups, making them more prone to colon cancer.

“The right side of the colon ages faster than the left in African Americans, but in European Americans, the left side of the colon is older than the right side, which fits the picture nicely that we see nationwide. We have seen more African Americans have the right side of the colon have a poor prognosis, we also see more African Americans have colon cancer at a younger age,” Li said.

Li said the discovery will aide in early prevention efforts and help greatly reduce racial disparities. Prevention efforts include earlier and more frequent colon screenings. Li noted preventative measures like eating healthy, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep can help slow colon aging.

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