UNCOVERING THE LINK BETWEEN CANCER AND YOUR GUT MICROBIOME
The Human Microbiome Project confirms the connection between ten types of cancer and an imbalance of gut bacteria, along with the proliferation of pathogens, yeasts, viruses, and parasites.
To better understand this relationship, consider these two crucial scientific facts:
1. Your gut microbiome governs your physical and mental biochemistry.
The vastness of your gut microbiome is astounding. With 90 trillion gut bacteria, they outnumber your body's 7 trillion cells by a ratio of 13 to 1. These bacteria possess three times more genes than you, resulting in a more extensive range of chemical compounds, proteins, enzymes, and vital messages. In fact, 38% of the small molecules in your bloodstream were produced by your gut bacteria. Their micro-RNA influences your micro-RNA, controlling both your physical and mental health. This symbiotic relationship can be life-enhancing or detrimental to your well-being.
2. When your gut microbiome suffers, so do you.
A decline in the volume and diversity of beneficial bacteria can have severe consequences. Antibiotics, for example, can eliminate some strains within just five days. This depletion allows harmful bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and parasites to thrive. Professor Paul O'Toole from the Cork Microbiome Institute asserts that these pathogens can cause cancer by invading and attacking the existing microbiome.
How can you recognize a damaged gut microbiome?
Symptoms of microbiome disruption include flatulence, bloating, thrush, cystitis, skin issues, allergies, night sweats, digestive irregularities, bad breath, mouth ulcers, fatigue, appetite loss, and sugar cravings. More severe indicators may involve frequent colds or flu, slow healing, bruising easily, infections, or persistent coughs.
What causes microbiome damage?
Factors include medication (particularly Proton Pump Inhibitors and antibiotics), insufficient consumption of gut-friendly foods (soluble fiber from oats, vegetables, pulses, nuts, and seeds), excessive intake of harmful substances (glucose, fructose, lactose), and lifestyle habits that alter gut acidity (binge drinking, smoking, stress). Parasites acquired through food poisoning can also wreak havoc on the gut.
The critical question is, "Do you know how to repair it?"
Healthy gut bacteria produce essential nutrients for your well-being. A robust immune system relies on your gut bacteria. These beneficial microbes synthesize B vitamins (which regulate DNA replication), vitamin K (for liver and bone strength), glutathione, melatonin, serotonin (for happiness), dopamine (for brain function), and regulate blood sugar and cellular oxygen levels.
They also create short-chain esters that control blood cholesterol levels (high levels correlate with shorter cancer survival times) and inflammation throughout the body (chronic inflammation increases metastasis risk).
An unhealthy gut microbiome can lead to various gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, Crohn's, and lupus. Research suggests that this imbalance might also increase your risk of colorectal cancer. A study conducted at McMaster University in 2016 showed that individuals who had experienced food poisoning were more likely to have an overgrowth of adherent-invasive E. coli (AIEC) even after the original causal bacteria were cleared from the body. This overgrowth could be linked to an increased risk of Crohn's disease, colorectal cancer, and reduced life expectancy.
Studies have also shown that taking antibiotics for an extended period and having a less diverse gut microbiome could contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. The SYNCAN study demonstrated that daily probiotic consumption could reduce this risk.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, may be connected to cancer and other diseases. Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found that individuals with oral microbiomes containing Porphyromonas gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, two bacteria linked to periodontitis, were at a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Moreover, a surge in gut bacteria and the presence of specific yeast have been linked to pancreatic cancer.
Researchers at the Louisiana School of Dentistry discovered a gum disease bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in the cancerous tissue of 61% of patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC). A meta-study from NYU Langone Health's Perlmutter Cancer Center showed a 21% increased risk of esophageal cancer if Tannerella forsythia, another bacterium linked to gum disease, was present in the mouth. Links to liver cancer have also been established, suggesting a more widespread danger.
Until 2014, scientists did not believe that bacteria played a role in breast cancer. However, research conducted by Dr. Gregor Reid and Camilla Urbaniak from Western University, Ontario, Canada, revealed that the breasts have their own microbiome. Further studies showed that there was a distinct microbial signature associated with different types of breast cancer, and that women with breast cancer had higher levels of E. coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis, both known to cause DNA damage. Conversely, health-promoting bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Streptococcus were more prevalent in healthy breasts.
Prostate cancer has often been linked to inflammation, with several studies conducted by the TH Chan Public School of Health in Boston. In 2013, Helicobacter hepaticus was linked to prostate cancer, and infected mice could transmit the infection to uninfected mice. Researchers also found that healthy mice had higher levels of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium rectale, while those with benign conditions or early-stage prostate cancer had higher levels of Bacteroides massiliensis.
The brain has its own microbiome, and a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi has been found in brain tumor patients. This bacterium is the principal cause of Lyme Disease.
An excess of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori has been linked to stomach ulcers, acid reflux,
Maintaining a Healthy Microbiome to Reduce Cancer Risk
Understanding the link between the microbiome and cancer is just the beginning. To protect yourself and reduce the risk of developing cancer, it is crucial to maintain a healthy microbiome by making smart lifestyle choices.
Here are some steps you can take to support your gut health and overall well-being:
1. Eat a diverse, fiber-rich diet: Consuming a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes can help feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut and promote a diverse microbiome.
2. Limit processed foods and added sugars: Processed foods and added sugars can contribute to inflammation and negatively impact your gut health.
3. Include probiotic and prebiotic foods: Probiotic foods contain beneficial bacteria, while prebiotic foods provide the necessary nutrients for these bacteria to thrive. Examples of probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, while prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and bananas.
4. Exercise regularly: Engaging in regular physical activity can help support a healthy microbiome and reduce inflammation.
5. Get enough sleep: Aim for at least 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to support your immune system and maintain overall health.
6. Manage stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact your gut health, so it's essential to find effective stress-management techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
7. Avoid unnecessary antibiotics: Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of your gut bacteria, so only take them when prescribed by a healthcare professional for a bacterial infection.
By maintaining a healthy microbiome, you can not only reduce your risk of developing cancer but also support your overall health and well-being. Remember, the key to a healthy life lies in maintaining a balanced and diverse microbiome, which in turn helps your body function optimally and keeps you in good health.
In conclusion, there is mounting evidence to suggest that gut health plays a significant role in our overall health and well-being, as well as in the development and progression of various types of cancer. From colorectal to brain cancer, an imbalance in our gut microbiome can lead to increased inflammation, weakened immune systems, and other factors that contribute to cancer risk.
To maintain a healthy gut, it is crucial to make wise food choices that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and limit the proliferation of harmful ones. Consuming a diverse diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, can help support a balanced gut microbiome. Additionally, taking care of your oral health, managing stress, and avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use can contribute to a healthier gut and potentially reduce your risk of developing cancer.
As research continues to explore the complex connections between gut health and cancer, it is becoming increasingly clear that maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is essential for our overall health. By taking steps to protect and nourish your gut, you can not only help to reduce your risk of cancer but also improve your general well-being and quality of life.