10/17/2011 05:02 EDT | Updated 12/17/2011 05:12 EST

Do infections trigger colon cancer? Idea worth pursuing, two new studies find

TORONTO - Two new studies are raising a new possible culprit in the development of colon cancer.

The research teams behind the work independently found high levels of a germ called fusobacterium in the tumours of people with colon cancer.

One team was from the B.C. Cancer Agency and the other was from Boston's Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The type of study both teams conducted can't answer the standard chicken-and-egg question.

They cannot tell if the bacterium caused the cancers, if it was present as a result of the cancers, or if its presence was coincidental.

It's been speculated for some time that colon cancer might be the result of an infection just as cervical cancer and some stomach cancers are.