According to Globocan, a World Health Organization research project on cancer, globally there were 12.7 million new cases of cancer and 7.6 million cancer-related deaths in 2008. The most prevalent cancers around the world are lung cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancers. Lung cancer has the highest death rate of all cancers.
Mainstream treatments for cancer usually include chemotherapy drugs and radiation. However, both patients and health professionals are increasingly looking for natural remedies to treat these potentially deadly conditions. This is due in part to the harsh side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. However, there is also a push to boost the body’s immune system to help fight cancer. This is where healthy bacteria called probiotics are proving to be quite promising.
Causes of Cancer
There are numerous factors that can cause you to develop cancer. They include:
• Family history or genetics
• Overexposure to sunlight
• Smoking or tobacco use
• Carcinogenic chemicals
• Being overweight or obese
• Poor diet and physical inactivity
• Alcohol abuse
However, the precise cause of cancer in any one person remains a mystery. For instance, any one of these factors, such as smoking, may lead to cancer for one person but not for another. This suggests that some people are more predisposed to developing cancer than others.
Probiotic Benefit for Cancer Treatment
Regardless of the cause, if you’re diagnosed with cancer you need to know about all the effective treatments available to you. Several studies have revealed that probiotics can play a role in treating cancer, in particular colon cancer.
These bacteria occur naturally in the body, but through diet, lifestyle factors, illnesses or antibiotic use they may become depleted. This causes an imbalance in favour of unhealthy bacteria and weakens the immune system.
In a study in Nutrition Journal, researchers stated that probiotics or beneficial bacteria can ward off cancer at various stages of development. They strengthen the immune system, improve mineral absorption and increased the body’s ability to use food.
They also indicated that “probiotics produce short chain fatty acids in the colon, which acidify the environment. Lower colon pH is associated with lower incidence of colon cancer.” These healthy micoorganisms can also minimize the amount of cancer-causing enzymes in the body.
Two types of probiotics – Lactobacillus species and Eubacterium aerofaciens – were linked to populations that had lower risks of colon cancer. Another probiotic strain, L. casei, was used in two trials of patients with superficial bladder cancer. Researchers found that L. casei resulted in a 50 percent disease-free time of 350 days compared to only 195 days for the control group. In the second trial probiotics was also more effective than placebo, except in the case of multiple recurring tumours.
For the biggest health benefits from probiotics choose refrigerated sources that contain live bacteria whenever possible. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how many of these organisms you need. However, Harvard Women’s Health Watch recommend 1 billion to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) several days per week. If you experience any discomfort such as gas or bloating you can always reduce the daily amount you take.
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