The easiest way to boost your odds against colon cancer

I’ve talked about the importance of gut flora many, many times in this space. It’s something of a pet topic of mine. So this latest bit of research obviously caught my attention… even though the results were anything but a surprise.

It appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. And it’s one of the largest epidemiological studies of its kind.

Researchers extracted DNA from the fecal samples of over 140 subjects. Nearly 50 had colorectal cancer, while the remainder served as healthy controls.

Results showed that subjects with colon cancer had lower levels of key bacterial strains, including Clostridia–which is key for dietary fiber fermentation–as well as butyrate. (This is a metabolite that prevents inflammation and cancer development in the colon.)

At the same time, cancer patients had higher levels of Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas. These bacteria are both linked to higher levels of inflammation in both the mouth and GI tract.

Like I said, these findings are hardly shocking. But they do underscore an important point. One that I like to remind my readers of as often as I can.

Gut diversity is absolutely critical. Previous research has linked subpar bacterial populations to everything from diabetes to autism. So I’m happy to see the subject assuming a more esteemed place among doctors and scientists.

These days, investigations into the gut microbiome are practically mainstream. And that’s a wonderful thing. Because a high quality probiotic, (which means one with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria) –is one of the most essential supplements you can take.

“Human Gut Microbiome and Risk of Colorectal Cancer.” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Dec 6.