Could probiotics have an effect on cancer? This would not come as a big surprise as probiotics have proven amazing organisms with many benefits. Probiotic bacteria support many body functions, cells, and even our gene expression. Studies also confirm that these good bacteria can be used for 170 diseases. But what about probiotics and cancer?
Patients receiving the diagnose “cancer” from their doctor often experience extreme anxiety and stress. Cancer is associated with severe sickness, gloominess and death. Cancer treatment is often expensive, complicated and can have many unpleasant side effects.
However, a simple, promising strategy is using probiotic bacteria.
Probiotics and cancer
The gut contains trillions of microorganisms of many kinds, forming a unique colony inhabiting the digestive tract. Each person has a different colony that has developed since birth and is shaped by diet, lifestyle, and other factors.
The gut contains strains of the Lactobacillus family, often used to produce fermented foods like yoghurt, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables. Lactobacillus species are also included in many probiotic supplements.
In a 2016 UCLA study, Lactobacillus johnsonii 456 proved to reduce gene damage and greatly reduce inflammation in mice. Recent research indicates that inflammation plays a major role in the development of cancer, heart disease and autoimmune diseases. Therefore, the UCLA finding is intriguing.
The probiotic bacteria given to mice stimulated them to produce metabolites known to prevent cancer. For example lymphoma, a type of cancer that originates in the immune system slowed down considerably in mice fed with probiotic bacteria. The mice also lived longer, had less DNA damage, lower inflammation, and improved metabolism. The researchers stated: “Remarkably, our findings suggest that composition of the gut microbiota influences and alters central carbon metabolism in a genotype-independent manner.”
The researchers continued: “Together, these findings lend credence to the notion that manipulating microbial composition could be used as an effective strategy to prevent or alleviate cancer susceptibility. In the future, it is our hope that the use of probiotics would be a potential chemopreventive for normal humans, while the same type of microbiota would decrease tumour incidence in cancer susceptible populations.”
As the researchers say, there are strong indications that probiotics prevent cancer in animals. One can, therefore, wonder if humans would respond in a similar manner to probiotic treatment?
Probiotics to prevent disease
This research indicates that in the future it might be possible to use probiotics more effectively to prevent cancer and other serious diseases. How?
A doctor can analyse the bacteria residing in a person’s gut and determine which specific bacteria strains are needed. After this, it’s a fairly easy to add the gut bacteria that are involved in reducing this individual’s risk of developing cancer or other disease. How can specific probiotic strains be added? There are several ways.
- By consuming a high-quality probiotic supplement containing the specific bacteria in the right amount.
- Consume fermented food containing the right probiotic bacteria species. Making homemade fermented food is inexpensive but very effective as it contains large amounts of bacteria, including lactobacillus strains.
- Adding prebiotics (fibre) is another way to stimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria strains residing in the gut. Gut bacteria thrive on fibre and consuming fibre daily is simple and safe.
In addition, a healthy diet with less sugar and carbs and high in fresh vegetables and healthy fats will cut the risk of developing serious disease.
If indeed the probiotics and cancer link is confirmed in humans, then it might be eise to consume natural bacteria on a regular basis.
Amrita K. Cheema, Irene Maier, Tyrone Dowdy, Yiwen Wang, Rajbir Singh, Paul M. Ruegger, James Borneman, Albert J. Fornace Jr, Robert H. Schiestl. Chemopreventive Metabolites Are Correlated with a Change in Intestinal Microbiota Measured in A-T Mice and Decreased Carcinogenesis. PLOS ONE, 2016 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151190
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