Probiotics in war on cancer

Category: Blog

Recent advances have shown that the gut microbiota (the collective name for the bacteria that lives in the digestive/intestinal tract) exert influences on protecting us from cancer.

Doctors at the University of North Carolina write that the human body harbors enormous numbers of microbiota that influence cancer susceptibility, in part through their remarkable metabolic capacity and their profound influence on immune cell function.

  • Studies demonstrate that microbiota can act as a Jekyll/Hyde. It can alter cancer risks and progression by diverse mechanisms, such as modulating (reducing) inflammation or tumor suppression.
  • Microbial pathogens (bad bacteria) drive tumor creation and production in 15% to 20% of cancer cases. Even larger numbers of malignancies are associated with an altered microbiota.
  • Evidence is emerging that microbiota can be manipulated for improving cancer treatment.1

In other new research, doctors writing in the medical journal Critical Reviews in Microbiology comment:

There is a common agreement about the role of colonic microbiota in the etiology of different cancers. Probiotics have been examined for their anti-cancer effects, and different mechanisms have been suggested about their antitumor functions. Nonpathogenic yeasts, as members of probiotics family, can be effective on gut microbiota dysbiosis (the gut imbalance and loss of harmony).

Generally safe yeasts have shown so many beneficial effects on human health. Probiotic yeasts influence physiology, metabolism, and immune homeostasis in the colon and contribute to cancer treatment due to possessing anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative and anti-cancer properties.

In this study, doctors focused on the possible cellular and molecular mechanisms of probiotic yeasts such as inactivation of carcinogenic compounds, especially those derived from food, improvement of intestinal barrier function, modulation of immune responses, antitoxic function, and anti-proliferative effects 2

Doctors from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Eastern Finland have concluded that probiotics can be used as a supportive therapy for cancer prevention and/or cancer treatment through their abilities to modulate intestinal microbiota, boost the immune response and for their antitumor effects.3

The modulation of intestinal microbiota include regulating problems of too few beneficial bacteria and the overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast, and/or parasites.

This is from Chinese researchers writing in the medical journal Nutrition and Cancer:

  • Imbalance of the microbiota has been implicated in many disorders including cancers.
  • Probiotics have been shown to play a protective role against cancer development in animal studies.
  • Clinical application of probiotics indicated that some probiotic strains could diminish the incidence of postoperative inflammation in cancer patients.
  • Chemotherapy or radiotherapy-related diarrhea was relieved in patients who were administered oral probiotics.
  • By modulating intestinal microbiota and immune response, some strains of probiotics can be used as an adjuvant for cancer prevention or/and treatment.As suggested in the first study above.

Probiotics and Prebiotics disrupt cancer communications

Recently, doctors in India announced their findings that balancing the gut environment with probiotics and prebiotics positively influenced the cross-talk between immune system and the gut microbiota thereby  suppressing cancer cross-talk.

Cross-talk is the cellular communication network that immune cells and cancer cells use to send messages to proliferate. Supporting the healthy gut microbiota allows for “message signalling” between the healthy gut and the immune system in which the gut helps the immune system development a plan against disease.

Prebiotics are foods that probiotics eat to grow on. Among them Raw Onion and Raw Garlic which are already well studied anti-cancer foods.

Here again. gut microbiome research has effectively improved the understanding about the role of probiotics and microbial treatment as anticarcinogenic agents.5


1 Bhatt AP, Redinbo MR, Bultman SJ. The role of the microbiome in cancer development and therapy. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2017 May 8.

2 Saber A, Alipour B, Faghfoori Z, Yari Khosroushahi A. Cellular and molecular effects of yeast probiotics on cancer. Crit Rev Microbiol. 2017 Feb;43(1):96-115.

3 So SS, Wan ML, El-Nezami H. Probiotics-mediated suppression of cancer. Curr Opin Oncol. 2016 Oct 26.

4 Yu AQ, Li L.  The Potential Role of Probiotics in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. Nutr Cancer. 2016 May-Jun;68(4):535-44. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2016.1158300. Epub 2016 May 4.

5. Ambalam P, Raman M, Purama RK, Doble M. Probiotics, prebiotics and colorectal cancer prevention. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2016 Feb;30(1):119-31. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2016.02.009. Epub 2016 Feb 19. Review.