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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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November 27, 2003
 Newspage

 


The role of hormones in colon cancer

 
Peter Campbell
Peter Campbell

By Sharon Gray
Peter Campbell is a doctoral student in epidemiology working with the Colorectal Cancer Interdisciplinary Research Team. This interdisciplinary multi-site project is looking at colon cancer in Newfoundland and Ontario from many perspectives: Mr. Campbell’s particular interest is the role of hormones in colon cancer, primarily among women who are genetically predisposed to this type of cancer.

“Not all women who inherit the gene for colon cancer get it, and I’m trying to figure out why some women do and some don’t,” explained Mr. Campbell, who is a student at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Dr. John McLaughlin. He recently spent a month at Memorial working with molecular geneticist Dr. Ban Younghusband, co-principal investigator of the Colon Cancer Project at Memorial, and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Mike Woods.

Mr. Campbell said one of the likely reasons why some women are protected against colon cancer is hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptive use. “In general we know that colon cancer is less common in women than in men, and that’s another reason for looking at the role of hormones.”

While working with Dr. Younghusband’s group, Mr. Campbell looked at differences in genes that create or break down estrogens among people known to carry hereditary colon cancer genes. He said his work would not be possible without the involvement of the Newfoundland data. “The rate of colon cancer in this province is the highest in the country, it is a unique population in which to study hereditary cancers.”

Mr. Campbell is just one of many young researchers who are gaining valuable experience through the work of the Colorectal Cancer Interdisciplinary Research Team, which includes more than 30 faculty members at Memorial and the University of Toronto as well as graduate students and health professionals in a wide range of disciplines.

Team members in both provinces are working together on six projects examining the relative contribution of genetic and non-genetic factors in this type of cancer: The causes of colorectal cancer, clinical outcomes, frequency and associated illnesses, psychological impact, barriers to prevention, and how genetic risk information is communicated and used. The project is funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant of $5 million over five years.


 


 
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Next issue: December 11, 2003

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