Every football team has a quarterback, and every basketball team a center.
In football, the quarterback calls plays and gives specific assignments to his players.
In basketball, the center is usually the tallest and strongest player on the team… and the one who makes inside shots and grabs rebounds.
Both these positions are key to the success of their teams. That’s why teams make huge investments in the training and wellbeing of the players in these positions. If they’re down and out, it’s much harder for the team to win.
Your body has a key player too, that can mean the difference between winning and losing something far more important… your health. Yet hardly anyone gives this key player the amount of attention that football quarterbacks or basketball centers get. Even most doctors ignore it.
Recent studies show that you could radically decrease your risk of many diseases and cancers by making this player a high priority.
Especially when it comes to colorectal cancer. Read on to find out how you could slash your risk by fifty to ninety percent. . .
Is this why your food choices matter so much?
The previously unknown link between your gut bacteria (called the biome) and colon cancer has gotten much attention in recent years. And for good reason – because the biome is the star player many still ignore, despite mounting evidence showing its importance.
Everyone talks about the role diet plays in cancer formation.
But the issue seems to be deeper than mere nutrients… it’s likely your dietary choices affect the bacteria in your gut in a profound way.
And this is what influences your risk of developing colon cancer and other chronic diseases.
Calling all friendly bacteria…
You need friendly gut bacteria for digestion.
They serve multiple purposes, including destroying pathogens and producing vitamin K, folate, and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
Your friendly gut bacteria produce SCFAs when they ferment fiber in your colon. SCFAs are your colon’s preferred energy source, and play a key anticancer role. Lab studies show that butyrate (a type of SCFA) helps keep colon cells healthy, prevents tumor cell growth, and destroys cancer cells in the colon.1
If your gut contains too many harmful bacteria and not enough friendly ones, an imbalance called dysbiosis occurs.
Dysbiosis and lack of gut diversity are linked to insulin resistance, weight gain, inflammation, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, a weakened immune system, and colorectal cancer.2,3,4
So you want to boost your good bacteria.
3 studies look at dysbiosis, SCFAs, and cancer risk
New research out of the UK in January 2018 shows that gut bacteria determine genetic expression, which in turn drives disease risk.
Dr. Patrick Varga-Weisz and his team investigated the role of SCFAs in disease prevention. His team added SCFAs to cultures of human colon cancer cells. The addition of the nutrients boosted certain proteins that switch genes on and off – and in turn hindered a cancer-causing protein called HDAC2 that scientists believe raises colon cancer risk.
They concluded that SCFAs help regulate proteins that control gene activity.5
Another study, from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, was published in the journal mSystems in May 2018. It also links the composition of a person’s gut biome with colon cancer.
This time the researchers linked the gut biome with certain types of microRNA – molecules that regulate genetic expression.
They indeed found that microRNA dysfunction facilitates tumor growth, calling it a very strong correlation… because these molecules behaved differently in colon tumors than in healthy colon tissue.6
A previous UK animal study found that probiotic supplements helped treat existing tumors and prevent new ones.7
That research, published in the American Journal of Pathology, showed that Lactobbacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) specifically has the potential to treat colon cancer.8
They concluded that your gut microbiome is a key player in your overall health, and may play a major role in colon cancer development. L. reuteri, a naturally occurring strain of gut bacteria, plays a key preventive role because it reduces intestinal inflammation.
The mice treated with the probiotics had fewer tumors. And the ones they did have were smaller than those present in the placebo group.
Lead researcher Dr. Versalovic believes we can reduce cancer risk simply by introducing microbes that provide the body with important missing substances.9
Antibiotics also quench tumor-caused inflammation
Interestingly, researchers were also able to reduce inflammation and tumor growth using broad-spectrum antibiotics.
But as you probably already know, antibiotics indiscriminately kill off all types of intestinal bacteria, the good and the bad. So I don’t mention this side effect of antibiotics as a recommendation, just an interesting fact.
Trying to halt colon cancer by eradicating your microflora could prove disastrous in the long term.
In fact, one study shows that antibiotics could even be a precursor to colorectal cancer. Women who used antibiotics long-term in their 40s and 50s increased their risk of colon polyps – the precursors of colon cancer — by 70%. And those who used antibiotics for two months or more during their 20s and 30s had a 36% increased risk.
You’re far better off encouraging beneficial bacteria – which will by default limit or eliminate “bad” bacteria, yeasts, and fungi.
Past research also shows that people with less GI bacterial diversity are more susceptible to colon cancer.10
Let’s take a look at ways to encourage the good bacteria, whether you’re currently dealing with cancer or want to make sure you don’t have to.
‘Train’ your key player to win for you
Nourishing your gut bacteria could be life-saving, considering that the biome influences genetic expression, not just for cancer prevention but also to avoid diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
It’s a great way to get your own ‘new’ gut… by training the key player on your health team.
Historically, people didn’t have the problems with gut health that we have today… due to the simple fact that they consumed lots of beneficial bacteria from their diet via fermented and cultured foods.
They also didn’t take antibiotics, and likely were not as fanatical about sanitation as people are nowadays. Believe it or not, it’s possible to be too clean.
Consider the following steps to improve your gut health faster than you think, sometimes in just days. . .
9 ways to turn your gut into a winning quarterback or center
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables to boost cancer-protective SCFAs. Only one-fourth of us eat enough vegetables. Are you in this healthy minority?
Dried plums (prunes) are shown to lower colon cancer risk by building up your good gut bacteria.
2. Severely limit your intake of processed foods, grains, sugars, and fructose. They wreak havoc on your microbiome, encourage pathogens, and raise your insulin levels. Dr. Ron Rosedale asserts that insulin plays a key role in any and all disease, including cancer.
3. Eat cultured (fermented) foods like raw cold-processed sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir. Or take a wide-spectrum probiotic supplement.
4. Exercise. Researchers found that exercise produces the SCFA, butyrate, which lowers inflammation and promotes gut health. Among human research subjects, exercisers experienced higher SCFA levels. But if they later return to sedentary behavior, SCFA levels drop back down again.11
Healthy fitness levels are linked to a greater abundance of the SFCA butyrate. One study found that professional rugby players had more diversity in gut flora and twice the number of bacterial families – compared to controls matched for body size, age, and gender.12
5. Stick to organic food as much as possible to avoid introducing chemicals into your gut biome.
Avoid glyphosate-treated foods. The chemical is known to cause leaky gut syndrome and gut dysbiosis. It’s also a named carcinogen in its own right.
Glyphosate is a weed-killer used on most genetically modified crops (corn, soy, cotton, and alfalfa, to name a few), and is also used shortly before harvest in many conventional grains like wheat.
6. Avoid alcohol, linked to dysbiosis.
7. Give up smoking, toxic to nearly every organ in your body. Quitting can improve gut diversity in as little as nine weeks.
8. Avoid antibiotics as much as possible.
9. Sleep! Scientists think the gut has a circadian rhythm of its own that affects your gut flora. This is a new area of study, but it seems totally plausible based on other research.
The good news is that it takes so little to be above average… just 21 days to create a new habit. And changing your diet can alter your gut flora in a matter of days.13
The best day to begin your cancer-free life is today, if you haven’t already. You’ll be glad you did.
A quick note about colonoscopy
Since the conventional go-to screening for colon cancer is colonoscopy, it’s worth noting its inherent risks.
Always ask three questions before agreeing to a colonoscopy: (1) How is the endoscope cleaned between patients? (2) Specifically, which cleaning agent is used? (3) How many of your colonoscopy patients have been hospitalized due to infections?
The problem is that there’s a serious issue with proper sterilization of colonoscopy equipment between patients.
If they use peracetic acid to sterilize the equipment, your likelihood of infection is slim, according to David Lewis, Ph.D., in an interview on Mercola.com. But if they use Cidex (as four out of five of them do) or glutaraldehyde, cancel your appointment and find a clinic that uses peracetic acid. The risk of an antibiotic-resistant infection is just too high.
Another caveat about colonoscopy… the doctors ask you to flush out your intestinal tract with harsh laxatives, which can create dysbiosis… the very thing you want to avoid.14
Some of today’s prominent natural doctors shun colonoscopy for these reasons.
If you start getting your gut in shape today, you could be fine without the screening test. But that ball is in your court.
- The American Journal of Pathology October 2017, Volume 187, Issue 10, Pages 2323-2336