The Microbiome and Cancer: A Balancing Act for Optimal Health

By: Stefani Wooldridge, RD, CLT
In our microbiome, we have more bacteria than our own cells (*1). The makeup varies depending on the host’s lifestyle. The amount of good vs bad bacteria is continually changing. The ratio can be affected by poor diet, lifestyle or antibiotics. Recent research has found that a healthy diverse microbiome can help the body maintain homeostasis and may have anti-cancer properties.

Risk of cancer can be reduced by analyzing the levels and types of intestinal bacteria in the body (*2). If left untreated, pathogenic gut bacteria can have a carcinogenic effect on the body.
However, research shows that increasing beneficial bacteria can suppress or inhibit carcinogenesis.

Schiestl and his colleges studied beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus strain 2. The bacteria reduced gene damage and inflammation, both of which play a role in many metabolic diseases and cancer. This study concluded that a microbiome consisting of beneficial bacteria may delay the onset of cancer.

Prescribing a treatment that rids the body of excess pathogenic bacteria and increases the number of bacteria that carry anti-inflammatory properties may lead one to optimal health, therefore decreasing the risk of cancer (*3).

Symptoms of poor gut health can include any of the following:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Sugar cravings
  • Bad breath
  • Moodiness, anxiety or depression
  • Skin problems
  • Autoimmune conditions

If you think these describe you don’t worry, gut health can be improved by making a few simple changes. Try avoiding inflammatory foods like processed food, added sugars, conventionally raised animal products and non-organic produce. We suggest incorporating prebiotic and probiotic rich food such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut. Increase your intake of phytonutrients like curcumin, resveratrol and anthocyanins that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Although nutrition greatly impacts gut health and overall health, it is just one piece of the puzzle. We recommend working with a practitioner who address all aspects of health for a full evaluation of your health.

  1. * Erdman SE, Poutahidis T. Gut bacteria and cancer.Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2015;1856(1):86-90. doi:10.1016/j.bbcan.2015.05.007.
  2. * 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
  3. * Hullar M. Burnett-Hartman A. Lampe J. Gut Microbes, Diet, and Cancer. Cancer Treat Res, 2014. doi:10.1007/nih.2015.01.

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