Colorectal cancer (CRC) presents a considerable disease burden worldwide. The human colon is also an anatomical location with the largest number of microbes. It is natural, therefore, to anticipate a role for microbes, particularly bacteria, in colorectal carcinogenesis. The increasing accessibility of microbial meta'omics is fueling a surge in our understanding of the role that microbes and the microbiota play in CRC. In this review, we will discuss recent insights into contributions of the microbiota to CRC and explore conceptual frameworks for evaluating the role of microbes in cancer causation. We also highlight new findings on candidate CRC-potentiating species and current knowledge gaps. Finally, we explore the roles of microbial metabolism as it relates to bile acids, xenobiotics, and diet in the etiology and therapeutics of CRC.
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