Colon Cancer has been one of the few silent diseases these days. You never know when it will strike – a simple stomach ache, out of nowhere, could be an indication of the said cancer. The thing with colon cancer is that it builds up slowly, depending on your lifestyle, the food taken, the cleanliness of the water, and how you digest the food. These are some of the things that can trigger the disease.
Bacteria may sound dangerous, but the truth is, there are good bacteria that the digestive system needs; this balances and enables all the essential nutrients to be absorbed by the body. These good bacteria can be found in foods or drinks that contain probiotics, living lactic acid bacteria.
One way to diagnose colon cancer early is through colonoscopy. It is a process wherein a tool called the colonoscope will be inserted into the patient’s rectum all the way to their intestine to determine where the location of the cancer mass.
This is a procedure where most people with colon cancer don’t want to experience even though they can be sedated. However, colonoscopy is not the only way to cure or prevent cancer. Of course, the choice of lifestyle is the first step to avoid it, especially the food.
There are findings of a study that probiotic bacteria can change the intestinal flora of colon cancer patients. The probiotics show a promising positive factor for the development of treatments of the patients.
Dietary supplements or processed foods contain probiotics, and they act as live bacteria. One example is yogurt, the most common probiotic-carrying food. In food supplements, the market harness lactobacilli, streptococci, and Bifidobacterium, which are normal constituents of the human gastrointestinal microflora.
Lactose-containing foods such as cheese and milk, juices, cereals, and toddler formula are all vehicles for probiotic delivery.
The probiotic microorganisms affect the intestinal flora, but they are not exclusively found in the large intestines. They also affect other organs either by providing bioactive metabolites or modulating immunological parameters like intestinal permeability and bacterial translocation.
Studies found probiotics enhancing the immune system and prevent or slow down the growth of existing tumors. This was seen when a set of mice with tumor cells showed an increase in survival rate when injected with probiotics containing lactic acid.
Multiple studies have been performed regarding the potential benefit of enteral administration of probiotics in reducing infectious complications in surgical as well as in critically ill patients, based on the idea that they may modify the gastrointestinal bacteria in a manner that preferentially favors the growth of minimally virulent species.
A certain study shows that the intestinal microflora composition, in terms of biopsies or masses, was different in tumor tissue and the surrounding mucous membrane in cancer-stricken patients compared with healthy people.
When the microflora among those with cancer was altered by treatment with probiotics, the amount of bacteria increased the production of butyric acid. This acid has inflammatory effects on the colon and also prevents the growth of cancer cells in the intestines.
An element on the probiotics, Lactobacillus Acidophilus NCFM, proved to reduce the growth of colon tumors when tested on mice. As well as reducing the amount of carcinogenic decomposition products, metabolites as they are called, in the human intestines.
Building on the principle that the human intestinal microflora affects the metabolism, acting upon the immune system and protecting it against pathogens and other factors that cause the disease. Thus, it has a strong impact on the general well-being of a person.
The intestinal flora often degenerates from its stable state in the diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as developing a metabolic syndrome. A healthy microflora can vary from different persons. Probiotic bacteria help change the microbiological imbalance in the cancer patients.
In one study, biopsy samples were obtained from the normal mucous membrane and tumor during colonoscopy from patients with cancer.
Later samples were taken during surgery from the tumor and nearby mucous membrane. After undergoing colonoscopy, fecal samples were obtained preceding the intervention and further surgery.
The tumor microbiota, the dependent variable, was characterized by increased microbial diversity and enrichment of several taxonomic group including Fusobacterium, Selenomonas and Peptostreptococcus compared with the control microbiota, the independent variable.
Patients with colon cancer that received probiotics had an increased affluence of butyrate-producing bacteria which are non-tumor mucous membranes.
Colorectal cancer-associated family such as Fusobacterium and Peptostreptococcus reduced in the fecal microbiology of patients that received probiotics.
Other Dietary Modifiers
More biologically active bacteria may also generate new metabolites from dietary components. Butyrate is the most widely studied of the short chain fatty acids and the preferred energy source of colonocytes. Short-chain fatty acids are formed from the fermentation of the bacteria of indigestible carbohydrates.
These acids are nutrients and growth signals for the intestinal cellular tissue and may play a role in preventing colon cancer.
Butyrate prevents apoptosis, a genetically directed process of cell self-destruction, and subsequent mucosal atrophy, a gradual loss of muscle. It also inhibits the multiplication of cell and angiogenesis, the formation of blood vessels.
Butyrate protects human colon cells from DNA damage and has been shown to affect gene expression.
In addition to butyrate, bacteria can also be involved in the formation of another beneficial group of fatty acids, the conjugated linoleic acids. These are isomers of linoleic acid that possess an anti-inflammatory and cancer protective properties.
Several studies have investigated that when linoleic acid is converted to conjugated linoleic acid, it incubates with various strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, decreasing cancer cell successfully and inducing apoptosis.
A prebiotic is a non-digestible food ingredient whose effects result from the selective stimulation of growth and activity of the gut microbiota. Common prebiotics includes inulin, oligosaccharides, lactulose and resistant starch. Inulin occurs in asparagus, artichoke, banana, chicory, and other green foods.
Ellagic acid, a polyphenol present in many foods such as pomegranates, raspberries, and strawberries has been reported to show a multitude of biological properties including antioxidant and cancer protective elements. It is digested by colon microflora to exert both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activities.
It is possible that these metabolites offer the protective effect against colon cancer, such as oxidative DNA damage and a decrease in carcinogen-induced unusual tumor formation.
The potential biological effect for these cancer-protective dietary compounds may be different among individuals depending on the state of their colon.
Colon Microflora Metabolism
The metabolism of the colon microflora may influence tissue exposure to higher molecular weight polyphenols, an antioxidant phytochemical, which are poorly absorbed in the central part of the gastrointestinal tract. These antioxidants are abundant in tea, chocolate, and variants of wine.
Read More: New Alternatives To Colonoscopy: Detect Colon Cancer In Other Ways
The intestinal microbiota is essentially linked with the overall health, including cancer risk. Moreover, the composition may not be fixed but can be influenced by several dietary components. These dietary modifiers include the consumption of probiotics – live bacteria, prebiotics – limited digestible food constituent, and polyphenols.
They are reported to reduce the colon cancer risk. A complex relationship exists between the intestinal microbiota and colon cancer risk which can be modified by dietary components.
The colon cancer-associated microbiota can be controlled or maintained by specific probiotic strains, resulting in a healthier microbiota enriched with beneficial bacteria. Probiotics can be considered as part of a therapeutic regime for colon cancer patients by microbiota modulation.
It contributes partially to the restoration of the deceased gut microbial diversity, but its main function is to preserve the patient’s immune function, like by preventing immunosuppression which might otherwise be detected by the cancer cells and trigger changes in their severity and lethality as these cells attack the patient.
Modulation of the intestine with probiotics seems to be effective in reducing infectious complications in surgical patients.
The interplay between diet, the anatomy and biology of the colon, and the patient or host in maintaining homeostasis is an important thing to consider in therapeutic strategies for colon cancer patients, as well as the analysis of the bacteria, is a critical component in understanding how these interactions influence the development and progression or prevention of the cancer.
The dietary recommendations and process for each patient might be different, but it possesses a positive result for cancer prevention based on the modification of the composition or the activities of the colon’s microflora.
Colon microbiota should be considered as a window for analyzing factors from the environment. Changes in energy uptake, metabolic disorders, stimulation of epithelial cells, and reduction of protective bacteria are possible ways through which carcinogenesis, or the formation of cancer, might be facilitated in humans.
The bottom line is when you have cancer or think you might have one; don’t ever have second thoughts of visiting the doctor. The process of treating colon cancer or preventing it may be dreadful but its better safe than sorry.
Also, if you really can’t handle the treatment, there are other recommended ways for curing cancer, like fecal immunochemical tests, cologuard, or CT colonoscopy. However, if these processes cannot inhibit the cancer, there’s no other way but colonoscopy.
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