Colon Cancer Linked To Genes, Not Lifestyle

key chow and fruit, a relatively nonstressful environment, lack of exposure to known carcinogens, and good veterinary care-old monkeys often get colon cancer, Uno discovered. "As in humans, the incidence of colon cancer dramatically increases with aging," he said.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in men, following prostate and lung cancer, and the third most common in women, following breast and lung cancer. In captive rhesus monkeys it appears to be the most common.

Uno's data did show, however, that certain other geriatric diseases are much less common in monkeys than in humans. "Lung and prostate cancers in elderly people are extremely common, for example, but those two cancers are very rare in our monkeys."

Rhesus monkeys share 93 percent of the human genome, which makes them the prime animal model for researchers seeking answers to human diseases like cancer, AIDS and diabetes. "We have only now been able to study colon cancer and other aging-related diseases more closely in monkeys and compare it to that in humans," said Uno. "Few populations of aged monkeys were in captivity up until about 15 years ago."

Uno said the data will be valuable to scientists working on preventive or experimental studies related to geriatric diseases in humans.

The UW Primate Center is one of seven primate research centers in the U.S. supported by the National Center for

Contact: Hideo Uno
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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