The colons of African Americans and people of European descent age differently, new research reveals, helping explain racial disparities in colorectal cancer – the cancer that killed beloved “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman at only 43.
Scientists led by UVA Health’s Dr. Li Li and Graham Casey, along with Matt Devall of the Center for Public Health Genomics, found that one side of the colon ages biologically faster than the other in both African Americans and people of European descent. In African Americans, however, the right side ages significantly faster, explaining why African Americans are more likely to develop cancerous lesions on the right side and why they are more likely to suffer colorectal cancer at a younger age, the researchers say.
The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The research team consisted of Matthew Devall, Xiangqing Sun, Fangcheng Yuan, Gregory S. Cooper, Joseph Willis, Daniel J. Weisenberger, Graham Casey and Li Li.
The work was supported by the National Cancer Institute Cancer Disparities SPORE Planning Grant (P20 CA233216), Case Comprehensive Cancer Center GI SPORE (P50 CA150964), National Cancer Institute (CA143237), and a pilot grant from the UVA Cancer Center (P30CA044579).