Maternal stress and early-onset colorectal cancer

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Early-onset colorectal cancer (EOCRC) is defined as colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosed before the age of 50. Alarmingly, there has been a significant increase in EOCRC diagnoses’ worldwide over the past several decades. Emerging data suggest EOCRCs have distinguishing clinical, pathological, biological and molecular features; and thus, are a fundamentally different subtype of CRCs. Unfortunately, there is no simple explanation for the causes of EOCRC. Scientifically rigorous studies are needed to determine what may be driving the challenging epidemiology of EOCRC. We contend here that a reasonable hypothesis is that prenatal risk factors such as maternal stress and associated sleeping disorders influence offspring epigenetic make-up, and shape immune system and gut health contributing to an increased risk for EOCRC.




Zhang, Q., Berger, F. G., Love, B., Banister, C. E., Murphy, E. A., & Hofseth, L. J. (2018). Maternal stress and early-onset colorectal cancer. Medical Hypotheses, 121, 152–159.

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