Is There a Cancer-Probiotics Connection?

ProbioticsPeople have started to understand just  how important probiotics are in restoring the balance of good bacteria to our guts. While there are probiotic-rich foods like yogurt you can add to your diet, generally a probiotic supplement is the only way to get enough active cultures to see any effect. Some probiotic brands like Whole Body Research’s Keybiotics have 37.5 billion active cultures.

Now  that we’ve got probiotics straight, I want to talk about recent studies that suggest the health benefit of taking probiotics is even greater than first realized. It turns out probiotics might help cancer treatments, and other disease-fighting drugs, do their jobs better.

In a 2013 study out of the University of Michigan, lab mice were given high doses of antibiotics to kill much of the bacteria in their stomachs. These antibiotics killed the good and bad bacteria in the gut, causing the ratio between the two to become out of whack. The mice were then given cancer-treating drugs and they responded poorly.  Moreover, a separate treatment targeted the immune system and these immune-boosting drugs also were not as effective.

What gives? What’s the relationship between a good bacteria ratio in the gut and cancer and how can probiotics influence cancer treatment?

It all starts with the differences in inflammation between a person with a good gut and a person with a troubled gut. In a human being struggling with a proper bacteria ratio in their gut — either because of lack of probiotic influences  or other factors — their stomach as well as the rest of their body potentially has more inflammation. This is an environment that makes cancer tumors more likely to thrive and cancer treatment less likely to be effective.

Probiotics on the other hand might help people naturally generate a critical substance called “R-spondon1” which activates stem cell production within your intestinal walls. You might’ve heard about stem cells before. These crucial tissue regeneration machines have been in the news for at least the past 15 years. For our purposes, though, stem cell production is crucial when it comes to cancer treatment because most cancer treatment like chemotherapy involves the destruction of cells. Arguably the most critical thing a cancer patient needs while getting treatment is the ability to regenerate cell and tissue.

“R-spondon1” will generate naturally provided the environment is right. This starts in the gut. If your gut bacteria are in line, the environment will be good and “R-spondron1” will be activated. If your gut bacteria are out of sorts, your intestinal cells will have a harder time regenerating. This is often the reason that people link IBS, Cohns and other intestinal conditions to a gut that is out of balance. Probiotics are a key factor in the ability for your intestines to produce natural substances like “R-spondon1” and create the kind of healthy cell regeneration that gives you the ability to stay healthy and fight off problems that arise.

Finally, probiotics need to be considered for another reason. Often cancer fighting techniques like chemotherapy are coupled with heavy doses of antibiotics. Given new research, this appears to be extremely problematic. Much like chemotherapy doesn’t make the distinction between cancer cells and healthy cells, antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria in our bodies and in our gut in the same willy-nilly manner. Probiotics are a moderating force that increasingly seem to be needed in the cancer treatment conversation.


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