Some gut microbes are your friends, maybe even cancer-fighting friends

Some gut microbes are your friends, maybe even cancer-fighting friends

Sure, you can hate someone’s guts, but maybe you should go easy on what’s in those guts –microbes that could slow, or even help prevent, the progress of some types of cancer.

In a study recently published in PLoS One,  researchers isolated a bacterium called Lactobacillus johnsonii 456, which is the most abundant of the beneficial bacteria, and gave it to a group of mice. The team then analyzed the metabolites — molecules produced by the gut’s natural metabolic action — in the mice’s urine and feces.

The scientists found that the mice produced metabolites known to reduce the risk of cancer. Those mice also had more efficient fat and oxidative metabolism, which the researchers believe might also lower the risk for cancer.

The findings suggest a provocative new avenue of research for cancer risk and prevention.

Perhaps the findings shouldn’t be surprising, suggested lead author Robert Schiestl, professor of pathology, environmental health sciences and radiation oncology at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.  After all, gut microbiota come in many varieties, some good and some bad, and serve various purposes – for instance, helping to break down the food we eat.  The good ones have anti-inflammatory properties while the bad ones promote inflammation.

“Inflammation causes all cancers, neurodegenerative disease, heart disease, inflammable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Lupus, celiac disease, arthritis, asthma and ageing,” said Schiestl, in an interview with “So a reduction of inflammation should reduce the risk” of all that.

So how do you boost the amount of the health beneficial microbes in your gut?

It’s easy, Schiestl  said.  “Since it is a Lactobacillus strain, it makes excellent yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut,” he said.

Sounds delicious.

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