How Beneficial Gut Bacteria Reduces Cancer Risk

Image source: Freedigitalphotos.net / OZphotography
Image source: Freedigitalphotos.net / OZphotography

How Beneficial Gut Bacteria Reduces Cancer Risk

We are now well informed that inside our digestive tract are millions of beneficial gut bacteria that help us break down the food we eat and limit the overgrowth of bad bacteria. They also protect us from infections by playing a crucial role in a healthy immune system. In this article I will share with you how beneficial gut bacteria also reduces cancer risk.

All one needs to do is take a course of antibiotics which kills off the beneficial gut bacteria to have a very good understanding of what an important role they play in our health. Supplementing with probiotics when one is taking antibiotics has long been favored by natural medicine doctors. Even a few conventional medicine doctors (if they are good ones) will advise taking probiotics to replace the good bacteria that is being killed off by antibiotic drugs.

In the past, taking probiotics has been seen primarily as something to help defend against intestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, etc. But scientists now believe that beneficial gut bacteria and probiotics play an even more important role in the prevention of other diseases, including cancer.

Did you know that 70-80% of your immune system is located within the gut? Also, the intestinal tract contains a very dense concentration of molecules that are involved in chemical detection and signaling and these molecules are able to affect cells throughout the entire body. This can be a good thing but it can also cause problems.

Intestinal bacteria produces proteins that are able to powerfully influence these chemical detector molecules. An imbalance in the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria within the gut activates these detector molecules in ways that can trigger the development of a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Fortunately, taking probiotics can reverse these disruptions to intestine-based signaling mechanisms. This, in turn, reverses the negative influence that triggers the development of chronic disease.

Some Research on Probiotics

A 2014 paper published in the World Journal of Clinical Oncology discussed a number of research studies which indicate that certain strains of beneficial bacteria have a protective effect against cancer. [1] The authors mentioned their own study wherein a probiotic bacterium known as Lactobacillus casei stimulated an immune response against a particular sort of breast tumor in mice, and delayed or avoided the growth of mammary tumors. [2]

A small animal study released in 2015 wherein Lactobacillus acidophilus was given to mice with breast tumors indicated that the mice that received this probiotic had an increased immune response and lived significantly longer than those who did not. Researchers concluded that the results of the study suggested that daily consumption of Lactobacillus acidophilus may modulate the immune response through its anti-tumor properties and enhance Th1 cytokine production. [3]

A 2014 study on rats found that long-term administration of a new strain of probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum, combined with a prebiotic known as inulin (indigestible fiber derived from mainly root vegetables) suppressed tumor frequency, increased T-cells (part of the immune system), and reduced tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a cytokine associated with cancer promotion in certain conditions. [4]

A 2004 animal study indicated that probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum significantly decreased DNA damage associated with the development of malignant cells. [5]

8 Ways Beneficial Gut Bacteria Help To Guard Against Cancer

1. By binding to potential carcinogens (cancer causing agents) and promoting elimination by the body.

2. By suppressing bad bacteria that could convert cancer-causing molecules into carcinogens.

3. By boosting immune cells in the gut that play a role in tumor inhibition.

4. By decreasing the enzymes associated with the development of carcinogens.

5. By promoting immune cytokines which fight against early stages of cancer development.

6. By decreasing DNA damage that can trigger malignant cell development.

7. By suppressing or decreasing inflammation in the body.

8. By boosting natural antioxidant and detoxification enzymes that inhibit activation of potential dietary carcinogens.

Because today’s Western diet, stress factors, widespread antibiotic use (and other pharmaceutical drugs), treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, and other lifestyle factors (even Caesarian delivery of babies), can disrupt the balance of healthy gut bacteria, supplementation with probiotics is highly recommended. An imbalance of gut bacteria can be reversed through supplementation with good quality probiotics and by regularly eating fermented foods such as kefir, organic plain yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers, pickled beets, pickled radishes, kimchi, tempeh, and kombucha.

References:

1. Modification in the Diet Can Induce Beneficial Effects Against Breast Cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127615/

2. The Administration of Milk Fermented by the Probiotic Lactobacillus Casei CRL 431 Exerts an Immunomodulatory Effect Against a Breast Tumour in a Mouse Model – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24646876/

3. Th1 Cytokine Production Induced by Lactobacillus acidophilus in BALB/c Mice Bearing Transplanted Breast Tumor – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449865/

4. Preventive Effects of Probiotic Bacteria Lactobacillus Plantarum and Dietary Fiber in Chemically-induced Mammary Carcinogenesis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25202079

5. Dietary Intervention with the Probiotics Lactobacillus Acidophilus 145 and Bifidobacterium Longum 913 Modulates the Potential of Human Faecal Water to Induce Damage in Ht29clone19a Cells – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15182396

 
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