Probiotics for the Prevention of Colon Cancer

colonConsuming friendly live bacteria may help to lower people’s risk of developing cancer, according to a University of Ulster scientist.

Professor Ian Rowland, Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health based at the university’s Coleraine campus, told a conference in Dublin that research had shown probiotics had a role to play in reducing the chances of developing cancer of the lower intestine.

“We know that the gut bacteria play a role in cancer – so things which modify the bacterial flora may have an effect,” he said.

The study included 80 people who either had colon cancer tumours or non-cancerous colon polyps that had been recently removed. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a probiotic or placebo.

After twelve weeks, researchers found that the balance of colon bacteria had changed in those receiving the probiotic, with more Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and less of the bacteria (Clostridium) that is linked with increasing cancer risk. These findings are consistent with earlier studies showing that ‘bad’ bacteria can produce substances that initiate or promote development of colon cancer.

Professor Rowland told delegates to the conference on Bacteria in Food and Health that examinations of cells had provided evidence that probiotics could beneficially influence various stages in the initiation and development of colon cancer.

“We can identify compounds in the gut which can damage the DNA and we’ve found that probiotics can inactivate those chemicals.”

Emed’s Comment:

Our bodies contain billions of bacteria – in fact, there are around 400 different species of bacteria inside your gastrointestinal tract, weighing in at around 1.5 kilograms!

Each of us has an internal ecosystem, with our organs working continuously to maintain a balance between all the healthy and not-so-healthy things we put into our bodies everyday. One of the hardest working internal organs is the intestine, and making sure it is healthy is one of the keys to overall health.

Alcohol, poor diet choices, junk food, processed food, antibiotics and illness throw out this delicate balance. The ‘bad’ bacteria takes over, leaving the army of ‘good’ bacteria depleted.

Supplementing with probiotics is an easy way to restore this balance. Health conditions associated with a probiotic deficiencies (low levels of good bacteria) include stomach complaints (think bloating, wind, cramping, diarrhoea), vitamin and mineral absorption (most nutrients are absorbed in the intestines), thrush, allergies, arthritis, CFS, cold sores, athlete’s foot, constipation, Crohn’s disease, IBS, eczema, nappy rash, premature ageing, hyperactivity, gout and migraines.

We should all be taking a probiotic everyday to maintain good health and now, with this new research showing that probiotics can contribute to cancer prevention, it is even more important. We don’t often think of the friendly bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract as important components of cancer prevention, however healthy amounts of friendly bacteria play many important roles in our goal to defend against this malignant and deadly disease.

We have a great range of probiotic supplements available on Emed for immediate delivery. We have compiled a list of them for easy selection. To find out more about Emed’s Best Probiotics, please click here.

What else can I do?

  • Take an antioxidant. Antioxidants work by neutralising free radicals – dangerous compounds that can cause illness, disease and cancer. Though this isn’t the cure for cancer, daily use can go a long way for good health. Try Bioceuticals AntiOx Excel.
  • Eat well. Eating a diet rich in protein, calcium and fibre may help prevent colon cancer and other diseases. Eat plenty of fresh vegies, fruit, lean meats, fish, nuts and some dairy everyday.Reduce or eliminate high-fat foods from your diet – high consumption of fatty foods has been shown to promote cancer and disease. For more information on how and what to eat for cancer prevention, click here.
  • Consume fats – omega-3 fatty acids that is. Omega-3 fatty acids act as anti-inflammatories in the body due to their COX-2 inhibiting actions (COX-2 enzymes fuel inflammation, tumours and arthritis). Check out Emed’s Best Fish Oils for the strongest and most effective fish oil supplements available.
  • Get your daily dose of sunshine. Vitamin D protects the against colon cancer by helping to detoxify cancer-triggering chemicals that are released during the digestion of high-fat foods. Get out in the sun for 10 minutes a day, and use Bioceuticals D3 Drops to top up your vitamin D levels. Read our article ‘Vitamin D Deficiency Boosts Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes’ for more information on this vital vitamin.
  • Exercise daily. University of Utah research shows that high-intensity cardiovascular exercise can cut your risk of colon cancer due to cardio’s ability to lower insulin levels (insulin can promote tumours by triggering cells to divide). Click here to find out how much exercise you should be doing.

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