As a dietitian, I began realizing how many people around me were developing chronic diseases, including colorectal and other gastrointestinal cancers, because of their diet and other behaviors. That inspired me to understand how we can change what we eat to improve our risk of cancer. At ACS, my research focuses on how foods and nutrients may influence our gut bacteria and, in turn, affect our risk of developing colorectal cancer.”
As a Principal Scientist in Population Science, Caroline Um, PhD, MPH, RD, investigates how foods and nutrients affect the risk of colorectal cancer. She led a pilot study to test stool collection methods that will inform the future collection of stool samples among the ACS Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3) participants, which will enable the study of the gut microbiome.
The goal of Um’s studies is to help improve dietary behaviors and inform dietary guidelines to help reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer. Much of her research focuses on how specific foods, such as highly processed foods, whole grains, and dietary fiber, increase or decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
She has also investigated how these dietary exposures are associated with blood-based biomarkers of intestinal permeability and inflammation using dietary recalls and biospecimens from the CPS-3 Diet Validation Study.
Um is also currently studying the association of various dietary exposures with the gut microbiome to understand the role of gut microbes in the development and progression of colorectal cancer. Her pilot study on stool collection methods, which received a training award, has informed the development of a new CPS-3 Gut Microbiome Sub-Study. She has a particular interest in identifying ways to modify the gut microbiome through the diet to develop interventions for racial/ethnic minorities who have higher rates of colorectal cancer and to address the increasing incidence of colorectal cancer in younger populations.
For a full list of Dr. Um's publications, visit her Google Scholar page.