Fri, Jul

Cancer: Are Probiotics the Cure-All We’ve Been Seeking?

WELLENESS-- Once again PROBIOTICS are front and center in health news. This time confirming what scientists have expected for a number of years; besides probiotics playing a crucial role

in the relationship between cancer and the human body, experts are now looking at the way our gut bacteria affect patients that are undergoing treatment for specific types of cancer. 

This doesn’t come as a total surprise because we already know that the biome (probiotic makeup in the gut) and the immune system have an important and complex relationship. The specific types of cancer drugs they are looking at, PD1 inhibitors, are designed to “free up” the immune system so that it can work to attack cancer cells. PD1 drugs are approved for melanoma, lung, bladder, and stomach cancers. 

At the moment, all we know is that patients with cancer undergoing treatment with these drugs respond differently depending on their gut biome. The two types of probiotics specifically noticed in the patients that responded positively to the drug therapy were ruminococcus and faecalibacterium. It is important to note that just because they have found a clear link with these probiotics and a positive outcome for drug treatment with PD1 does prove those probiotics are helpful. It would be necessary to do a study specifically using those probiotics on patients undergoing cancer treatments. 

What we do know is that a healthy gut biome is crucial to wellness. The best way to increase these healthy bugs is by eating fermented foods. They can be purchased or made at home. 

Many people don’t like the taste or simply don’t spend enough time in the kitchen to prepare them, so a probiotic supplement is a great alternative. 

There is no one product that works for everyone. For people with digestive issues, switching up the probiotic used until one feels more regular in the digestive arena is a clear way to know the probiotic supplement is working. 

For those that don’t have any digestive problems, it is safe to buy a mid-priced probiotic. Instead of focusing on the total number of probiotics in the product, focus on the variety of different strains of probiotics. Also finding a product that is control-release or a caplet is a good way to ensure the bacteria is not already dead when you take it. 

We used to need them refrigerated, but new delivery systems make that unnecessary. That said, some of the high end better products are still refrigerated, and for those of you with compromised guts or digestive disease, those may be the best choice. 

Regarding diet, the best way to get these naturally is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter:  @CristianoWFR )