Associate professor Dr. Jim Burch, a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has been awarded a nearly $3 M R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to examine the role of circadian factors in inflammation and colorectal adenoma risk.
An epidemiologist and a member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program, Dr. Burch has extensive experience studying the relationship between circadian rhythms (i.e., an individual’s naturally occurring sleep-wake cycle during a 24-hour period) and cancer. As principal investigator for the R01 project, he will use a biobehavioral case-control design to determine whether the disruption of circadian rhythms and sleep is associated with inflammation or colorectal adenoma formation.
Adenomas are benign tumors that have the potential to become malignant and account for 85 to 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases. Colonoscopies can detect adenomas before they become cancerous; however, screening rates are low – despite colorectal cancer’s status as one of the most common and deadly forms of cancer in the United States. Further, Dr. Burch and others’ previous research has identified disparities in both screening and mortality rates for colorectal cancer, with African Americans disproportionately affected.
Also based on previous research, Dr. Burch and his team know that gastrointestinal inflammation and circadian rhythm disruptions intersect as risk factors for colorectal cancer.
“A pro-inflammatory diet and physical inactivity can induce chronic GI inflammation,” Dr. Burch says. “Further, sleep loss can disrupt diet and exercise, and it is associated with elevated inflammation mediators.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on January 31