Probiotics and Cancer

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, believed all those years ago that all disease starts in the gut and a recent study published in PLOS ONE shows that having some control over your gut’s bacterial population may even help prevent cancer.

Living inside your gut there are fungi, good bacteria and bad bacteria and as long as they are in the right proportions they survive happily together and do not cause problems. However when the gut flora is upset and the bacteria become imbalanced, the problems begin.

The good bacteria helps to reduce inflammation and the bad bacteria promotes inflammation which is why it so important to feed the gut with good bacteria to keep the gut working well and prevent it becoming inflamed.

The study focused on mice that had a specific gene mutation that’s basically a steppingstone to cancer.

But in the lab, gut flora appeared to influence whether or not those cancer-causing genes expressed themselves. Despite the fact that all of the mice were genetically predisposed to develop lymphoma, it took twice as long in the group given good bacteria as opposed to the group whose gut bacteria was a typical mix of good and bad.

The mice given exclusively good gut bacteria also had less DNA damage, and lived four times longer.

So maybe we should learn form this study, maybe even prevent cancer or at least delay the inevitable, by simply manipulating the bacteria in out gut.

One of the reasons why probiotics are such a powerful tool against infections and disease is because 60-70 per cent of your immune system is located in your gut. This defence network consists of lymph tissue referred to as GALT (gut-associated lymphatic tissue). The probiotics in your gut are constantly interacting with the GALT and essentially priming your immune system for contact with other potentially harmful bacteria.

Supplementing with probiotics activates several components of your immune system, including infection-fighting antibodies, proteins that identify and neutralise harmful antigens.

Dealing with food sensitivities on a daily basis, where the sensitivities can upset the lining of the digestive system and create a ‘leaky gut’ and in turn inflammation of the gut, I realise how important it is to bulk up on good bacteria.

For many of my patients I recommend a probiotic with multiple strains of bacteria and now I can see that it is even more important for everyone to include good bacteria in their daily routine.

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