Cancer Prevention Program

DNA Repair, Folate, and Colorectal Carcinogenesis

PI: Neli Ulrich PhD

The development of colorectal polyps and cancer involves genetic as well as environmental factors. The colon is exposed to a large number of genotoxic compounds both from external and internal sources (for example through high-cooked meat intake, alcohol intake, or smoking). Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer is a family syndrome that illustrates the importance of DNA repair mechanisms in the development of colorectal cancer.

This study investigates the relationship between genetic variability in enzymes related to DNA damage and repair of that damage. Our goals are to understand whether the inherited ability to process genotoxic compounds, or the ability to repair damage to the DNA, affects the risk of developing colon tumors. The study is based on two large study populations of individuals with colon polyps or tumors (cases) and healthy controls. By investigating their inherited capacity to deal with DNA damage, in conjunction with the level of exposures causing DNA damage, we hope to gain a better understanding of this interaction between genes and the environment.