In two recent studies, MIT scientists have found evidence to support the idea that chronic inflammation of the intestine or stomach can damage DNA, increasing the risk of cancer. The researchers were able to show that under normal circumstances, the DNA damage induced during an inflammatory response is healed by the DNA repair systems. But, if the DNA repair system is not functioning properly due to chronic inflammation, that damage can induce mutations or tumors that can lead to cancer, according to the studies.
These studies are important and informative if you are living with a condition such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis which cause chronic inflammation. However, there are some specific things to keep in mind with the results of this research.
First, the investigations were done with mice, not humans. This isn't to say that the findings are not extremely important to the field, but just be aware that some in the press will quickly make the jump from the headline to humans without looking into the study with a critical eye.
You should also keep in mind that like most researchers, the MIT experimenters were looking for significant differences between mice with stomach inflammation and those mice without stomach inflammation. In other words, not all the mice with stomach inflammation developed cancer. Just like other animals, humans will also vary in their responses to illness, and this variability may make some individuals more susceptible than others to developing tumors. Not all humans with chronic inflammation will develop cancer.
Finally, this research does support the idea that if you suspect you are living with chronic intestinal inflammation, it is important that you seek treatment, and are taken seriously by a healthcare provider. Treating infection and inflammation early may prevent those who are most susceptible from developing cancer.