- A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of probiotics in post-surgical colorectal cancer
- Cancer: Are probiotics making immunotherapy less effective?
- Probiotics, touted as good for the gut, may be trouble for immune system
- Probiotics: Healthy bacteria for your gut
- Probiotics and Cancer
- Probiotics and Cancer: Boosting the Immune System
- The Russian Connection
- Microbes Good for Cancer Patients
- Enhanced Immunity with Yogurt
- A Probiotic Rich Dessert
- Probiotic Supplements for Cancer
- Danger of Antibiotics
- Cost of Probiotic Cancer Treatment
- See Our Other Blog Posts on This Topic
A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of probiotics in post-surgical colorectal cancer
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Cancer: Are probiotics making immunotherapy less effective?
Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment with several benefits. For this reason, improving its effectiveness is vital. In studying the gut microbiome, scientists have found some rather unusual results.
Share on PinterestProbiotic supplements may hinder cancer treatment.
Cancer immunotherapy is a relatively young field.
However, it has the potential for long-term remission and less ly side effects.
According to the Cancer Research Institute, scientists have shown that it is effective at treating cancers that are resistant to both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Immunotherapy works by helping the immune system fight off the disease. Cancer cells normally go undetected by the immune system, but the treatment uses drugs and other substances to produce a stronger response.
Checkpoint inhibitors are one type of immunotherapy. They affect cancer cells’ ability to dodge immune system attacks. However, they only work for 20–30 percent of people with cancer.
Scientists have recently found that the gut microbiome, which comprises trillions of intestinal microorganisms, has the ability to control the immune system.
A group of researchers from the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco, CA, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has examined whether this could be impacting immunotherapy success rates.
The preliminary study is the first to look at the link between immunotherapy, the gut microbiome, and diet in people with cancer. In all, 113 individuals with metastatic melanoma who had started treatment at MD Anderson took part.
The scientists presented their findings at the American Association for Cancer Research’s recent annual meetings, which took place in Atlanta, GA.
The participants filled out a lifestyle survey on their diet, medication, and use of supplements. The researchers also analyzed their fecal samples to build up a picture of each individual gut microbiome. They also tracked the participants’ treatment progress.
One surprising finding came to light. Taking over-the-counter probiotic supplements correlated with a 70 percent lower chance of responding to checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. Almost half (42 percent) of the participants reported taking such supplements.
The researchers also noticed a relationship between probiotics and lower gut microbiome diversity. Scientists had already seen this in people with cancers that respond poorly to immunotherapy.
“The general perception is [that probiotics] make your gut microbiome healthier,” says first study author Christine Spencer, a research scientist at the Parker Institute. “While more research is needed, our data suggest that may not be the case for cancer patients.”
Dietary choices also appeared to have an impact. People who ate a high-fiber diet were five times as ly to respond to immunotherapy and had more bacteria linked to a positive response.
People with diets high in added sugar and processed meat, on the other hand, had fewer of these bacteria.
Spencer and team were less shocked by this result. “Eating a high-fiber diet has long been shown to have health benefits,” she explains. “In this case, we see signs that it is also linked to a better response to cancer immunotherapy. Definitely another good reason to load up on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.”
Overall, the study may partly explain why some cancers do not respond well to immunotherapy treatment. It also suggests that certain dietary factors — especially careful consideration of probiotic supplements — may have an impact on success rates.
Spencer admits that improving the effectiveness of immunotherapy might not be as simple as that. “But this study,” she says, “does point to diet playing a role in immunotherapy response via the gut microbiome and we hope these findings will spur more studies on this topic in the cancer research community.”
More trials are beginning. One is currently using an oral pill in an attempt to positively influence the gut microbiome and immunotherapy response.
MD Anderson staff are planning another that will examine the effects of different diets on people with cancer.
Probiotics, touted as good for the gut, may be trouble for immune system
Probiotics are wildly popular. After all, the microbial cocktails are available over the counter and have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses for some people.
But some scientists worry probiotics aren’t as innocuous as they seem — and might be affecting the way other medicines work in the body.
The latest cautionary note comes in the form of a preliminary study released Tuesday, in which researchers found that melanoma patients were 70 percent less ly to respond to cancer immunotherapy if they were also taking probiotic supplements. The study group was small — just 46 patients — but the findings support broader suggestions that probiotics might actually upset the balance of so-called “good” bacteria in the gut and interfere with the immune response.
The research was conducted by MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco.
“We wanted to bring this to the forefront of people’s minds: That probiotics sold over the counter aren’t necessary,” said Dr. Jennifer Wargo, lead author of the study and an associate professor of surgical oncology at MD Anderson. “They may not help you, and might even harm you.”
The microbiome — or rather, the trillions of distinct bacteria that flourish in every single gut — is now believed to play a substantial role in regulating a person’s overall health. The demand for probiotic supplements is expanding rapidly, as consumers attempt to self-correct perceived imbalances in their guts; the global market, in 2013, was valued at $36 billion.
But because probiotics — vitamins and other such supplements — are only loosely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, consumers are free to sprinkle these prepackaged bacterial spores in with their standard therapeutic regimens. And that could have serious implications for their medical outcomes.
“I strongly, strongly question why the general public takes probiotics when medical evidence to this routine is not really available,” said Eran Elinav, an immunology researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.
Probiotic mixes vary dramatically from pill to pill. Companies aren’t even required to maintain the same combination of bacterial strains from one batch to the next, meaning what people put in their bodies could vary widely. Some of these strains may hinder the efficacy of one medicine, while others may enhance it.
There are too many unknowns to render any given probiotic totally safe, said Dr. Pieter Cohen, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Cambridge Health Alliance, who wrote about the issue last year in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Probiotics do work for some people, and some conditions: They’re helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome, for instance, and other gastrointestinal illnesses, said Dr. Rishi Sharma, a gastroenterologist in Walnut Creek, Calif.
Cancer patients often take probiotics to help mitigate some of the side effects of treatment — particularly diarrhea that stems from chemotherapy. While oncologists tend to be loathe to suggest their patients take over-the-counter probiotics, many with cancer still do: The MD Anderson study found that 42 percent of the patients studied were also taking probiotic supplements.
“When you see a study this, suggesting immunotherapy might not work that well — I’d just avoid taking the probiotic,” Sharma said. “Your whole goal is to treat the cancer. And when it comes to probiotics, there’s just a lot of really bad data out there.”
Immunotherapies generally work in about a quarter of patients with certain cancers, but it’s still unclear exactly why. The MD Anderson/Parker Institute study was designed to probe whether there was a correlation between diet, the gut microbiome, and patient response to immunotherapy.
Forty-six metastatic melanoma patients beginning treatment at MD Anderson were asked to take a survey on what they ate and drank, and what supplements they took.
Before the start of the therapy, researchers also took fecal samples from each patient — profiling the bacterial makeup of their respective microbiomes.
The study also found that higher fiber intake was correlated with more lush microbiomes — and stronger responses to immunotherapy.
The research was presented as an abstract at the American Association of Cancer Research meeting this week in Atlanta. It hasn’t yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
“This study shows you that a patient’s response to immunotherapy is highly modulated by the microbiome,” said Elinav.
Elinav said the findings “are in perfect agreement” with conclusions from his own research: He published a pair of studies in Cell in 2018, finding that probiotic supplements actually decreased the diversity of participants’ microbiomes after they’d taken a course of antibiotics. In fact, the guts of those who took probiotics took much longer than those who did not to fully recover.
The MD Anderson/Parker Institute findings are far from conclusive.
Wargo said that she and her team have been expanding the patient cohort being studied; they are also working with Seres Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.
-based biotechnology company, on whether bespoke combinations of probiotics might actually improve immunotherapy responses. Still, not all researchers are convinced by the early conclusions.
The Parker Institute is now conducting such a trial in collaboration with MD Anderson and Seres Therapeutics. This randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study is evaluating whether a specially designed oral microbiome pill with specific types of bacteria could positively impact a patient’s response to checkpoint inhibitors.
“I think it’s a provocative finding,” said Dr. Adil Daud, a professor of medicine and director of melanoma clinical research at University of California, San Francisco. “But I still think it’s too early to really conclusively say that probiotics interfere with immunotherapy.”
The trial was too small, and too many variables could have influenced its outcome, he said. Microbiota vary too significantly from person to person, and immunotherapy responses might even vary depending on age, ethnicity, and gender, Daud said. The study was too small to possibly take all of these factors into consideration, he said.
Daud noted that he did have one melanoma patient that he treated with pembrolizumab — an anti-PD-L1 immunotherapy — who actually seemed to benefit from probiotic use.
Upon stopping a drug that had proved effective, the patient’s tumor began to grow back.
When Daud restarted the pembrolizumab, the patient chose to also take a probiotic from Whole Foods; with the addition of the supplement, the same drug had a lasting effect on keeping the cancer at bay.
“But this is an isolated, n=1 case — so I don’t know how much weight this carries,” Daud said.
Daud tells his patients that, rather than focusing on probiotics, they’d be better served to work on their diet — increasing fiber intake, for instance.
Cohen, the internist at Cambridge Health Alliance, said he “can’t make heads or tails” of the latest study — it’s too small and vague, in his view.
“My two cents would be, this study reminds us that there’s no question that probiotics have a powerful impact on the immune system,” Cohen said. “That, and we have almost no data to demonstrate that these live microorganisms actually improve health.”
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Probiotics have been shown effective against diarrhea and certain inflammatory disorders. But data from well-designed clinical trials are needed to establish their use.
Probiotics are defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the World Health Organization as “live microorganisms, which when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health effect on the host”.
Majority of probiotics contain bacteria that produce lactic acid, such as Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Bifidobacterium, Propionibacterium and Enterococcus or yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii that are not harmful.
Probiotics have grown popular over the last two decades because they are thought to improve digestion, immune function and nutrient absorption but the most important being the reversal of dysbiosis (changes in the function or composition of gut microbes) that is thought to play a role in the development of many chronic and degenerative diseases.
Although gut microbiota is known to develop at birth, nutrition, lifestyle, and changes in the host genome during later years can shift its makeup and activity, which in turn influences overall health and the risk of developing disease.
Antibiotic use has also been associated with gut microbiota disruption in general population, increasing the risk of chronic disease; in patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation; as well as in allogeneic bone marrow transplantation patients.
Furthermore, antibiotics were found to inhibit the benefits of immune checkpoint-inhibitors in patients with advanced cancer.Studies are underway to determine strategies for modulating the gut microbiome to improve immune response in cancer.
Probiotic supplementation is promoted for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, gastroenteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies, dental cavities, and for the management of diarrhea due to antibiotic use, due to the bacterium Clostridium difficile, and that associated with chemotherapy.
Other methods used to change the gut microbiota include “prebiotics” and “fecal microbiota transplantation” (FMT). Prebiotics, also known as functional foods, are non-digestible food ingredients that benefit the host by selectively promoting growth or activity of helpful gut bacteria.
Because probiotics are short-lived, prebiotics are sometimes added to probiotics to maintain their levels in the gut. This combination of pro- and prebiotics is called “synbiotic therapy.
” FMT involves administration of fecal matter from a healthy donor into a recipient by enema, colonoscopy or through the upper gastrointestinal tract in the form of oral capsules, via nasogastric, nasoduodenal or nasoenteric tube, or by endoscopy.
Current evidence indicates that probiotics may be useful for the treatment of some inflammatory disorders, and also have anti-carcinogenic activity. But the drawbacks of the studies include small sample size and poor methodology. Well-designed trials and guidelines are needed to recommend use of probiotics.
Probiotics are generally considered safe, but their long-term safety is not known. Bacteremia (presence of bacteria in the blood), fungemia (presence of fungi in the blood), and endocarditis (inflammation in the lining of the heart) have been reported following use in newborns and in immunocompromised individuals.
You are taking drugs that are substrates of hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes: VSL3, a probiotic mixture of 8 bacterial strains, was shown to affect their activity.
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Yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, kimchi and buttermilk
Proposed mechanisms by which probiotics influence colonization in the gut include production of inhibitory compounds to suppress the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, and production of substrates to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Probiotics can also indirectly influence shifts in microbiota by interacting with the mucosal system, which affects systemic immunity; and by reducing pro-inflammatory markers implicated in many disorders (34) (35).
Studies using murine models indicate that administration of S.
boulardii to type-2 diabetic and obese mice resulted in reduced inflammation, body weight, fat mass, and hepatic steatosis, along with decreased bacterial population that has been previously associated with obesity and type-2 diabetes (36).
Probiotic treatment also affected a reduction in food intake and an improvement in glucose tolerance via release of the hormone glucagon- protein-1 (GLP-1), a physiological regulator of appetite and food intake (37).
Immunomodulation is one of the ways in which probiotics are thought to influence host health.
A subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum prevented Salmonella-associated infection in mice by inducing T-regulatory cells and by attenuating the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B, which plays a role in the expression of pro-inflammatory genes (38).
Induction of T-regulatory cells was also shown in humans along with a reduction in pro-inflammatory biomarkers (39). In addition probiotic administration was shown to reduce pain perception, and to induce changes in the colonic expression of genes that mediate pain and inflammation (40).
And a probiotic mixture reduced the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma by shifting the gut microbes toward beneficial bacteria, which produce anti-inflammatory metabolites (24). Protective effects of probiotics were also reported in a murine model of mammary carcinogenesis.
Oral administration of a supplement containing Lactobacillus reuteri resulted in inhibition of mammary tumor formation by triggering CD4+/CD25+ lymphocytes, which play a critical role in controlling immune responses (41). Because intestinal bacteria have been shown to influence carcinogenesis and response to anticancer therapy, manipulating them selectively may be a potential strategy to enhance the efficacy of anticancer treatments (66).
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Probiotics: Healthy bacteria for your gut
Your gut is home to 100 trillion microorganisms or microbes. These gut bacteria – some good, some bad – play a vital role in your health.
“Your intestines hold about 10 pounds of microorganisms. And each person has a unique blend that starts forming at birth,” says Stephanie Maxson, senior clinical dietitian in Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson. As you grow, where you live and what you eat affect this blend of good and bad bacteria. These gut bacteria – some good, some bad – play a vital role in your health.
Probiotics are the good bacteria. And they may help lower your risk for several cancers. “Probiotics help your immune system function at its best so it can detect and kill cells that can become cancer,” Maxson says.
Much of the probiotics research focuses on colon cancer, because most microorganisms live in your intestinal tract, Maxson says. “And while more research is needed, several studies show that people with colon cancer had an unhealthy population of gut bacteria before the cancer developed.”
So how do you keep your gut bacteria healthy?
Feed it a balanced diet.
Your diet sustains your gut bacteria. “We’re their host. We provide an environment and food. And they help us digest food and convert essential vitamins and nutrients into an absorbable form,” Maxson says.
So treat your gut a garden, not a gutter, she says. “You seed your garden with probiotic and fermented foods and feed it with prebiotic or fiber-rich foods.”
Probiotic foods contain live bacteria, which may help restore balance and offer protection from harmful bacteria. Eating them is one way to reseed your gut with good bacteria, Maxson says.
Plus, early research shows that the anti-inflammatory effects of probiotics could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells, says Heather Shepard, outpatient clinical dietitian at MD Anderson.
Probiotic foods include:
- Low-fat, plain organic yogurt with live or active cultures
- Kefir (a yogurt- drink)
- Kombucha tea
- Fermented vegetables sauerkraut and kimchi
- Fermented soybeans (miso)
To get the most health perks, eat at least one small serving of probiotic foods each day. If you’re considering a supplement, speak with your doctor.
Prebiotic foods feed the bacteria in your gut so they can grow and repopulate, Maxson says. Most are fiber-rich plant foods.
Prebiotic foods include:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables, specifically bananas, asparagus and onions
- Soy beans
Try to fill at least two-thirds of your plate with plant-foods. “A well balanced diet that is high in prebiotic foods can have significant health benefits and help keep your gastrointestinal system healthy,” Shepard says.
Limit processed foods
Processed foods are often low in nutrients and high in added sugar and salt. These include fast food, and packaged and instant foods. Eating too many of these foods can wreak havoc on your gut bacteria.
“People who eat a diet high in processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables have a lower diversity of microorganisms,” Maxson says.
Most scientific studies indicate that both the diversity and the composition or balance of gut bacteria are important. Gut bacteria also appear to play a role in weight gain and obesity.
“Studies show that people who are leaner tend to have a greater variety of microorganisms,” Maxson says. And being overweight or obese raises your risk for many types of cancer. This includes colon, post-menopausal breast and endometrial cancers.
The research is too new to know which gut bacteria makeup is ideal to maintain a healthy weight and reduce disease risk. “But it’s clear that variety and balance are important,” Maxson says.
It’s never too late to change your diet
When you change your diet, a significant change in your microorganism population takes place within a couple weeks, Maxson says.
“We’re just learning the benefits of a healthy population of gut bacteria,” she says. In addition to optimal immune function and lower cancer risks, studies show a healthy mix can affect your mood. Studies indicate that our gut bacteria and brain communicate with each other. Changes in gut bacteria have some influence on behavior, anxiety and depression.
So, for your health’s sake, take care of your gut.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.
Probiotics and Cancer
Probioticsare live microorganisms that are believed to confer a health benefit to thehost when taken in sufficient quantitites.
1 The theory underlyingtheir use is that gut dysbiosis — an imbalance in the normal flora of thegastrointestinal (GI) system — may contribute to disease, impaired metabolism,and/or dysregulation of the immune system.
2 The gut microbiotaconsists of all of the commensal microorganisms, including predominatelybacteria, but also fungi, archaea, and viruses, and evidence indicates that itparticipates in a complex interaction with the GI tract and immune system.
Themicrobiota in the setting of cancer has been an active area of research,particularly for colorectal cancer (CRC).
2 According to animalstudies, and depending on the predominant strains of the microbiota,microbial-derived factors can promote or suppress tumorigenesis and maymodulate the efficacy of anticancer treatments.
In addition, administration ofprobiotics has been shown to modify the microbiota of patients with cancer.3It has therefore been hypothesized that modulation of the microbiota withprobiotics may have positive effects on cancer prevention and treatment.
Althoughthere is much excitement about the possibility that probiotics could preventcancer, the most well-studied use of probiotics is as supportive care forpatients undergoing anticancer treatment.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggestthat probiotics can reduce certain toxicities associated with chemotherapy andradiation therapy (RT), though the sample sizes of these trials were small.
Ameta-analysis published in 2019 of all RCTs published up to mid-2018 thatincluded 9 trials with a total of 1508 subjects found that probioticssignificantly decreased the incidence of RT-induced diarrhea compared withplacebo (relative risk [RR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.45-0.81; P =.0007).
5 This effect was particularly evident withmore severe diarrhea, including grade 2 or higher (RR, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.30-0.98;P =.02) or grade 3 and higher (RR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.12-0.82; P =.02). However, a Cochranemeta-analysis found no difference between probiotics and placebo for grade 2 orhigher RT-induced diarrhea (risk ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.55-1.03).
6The authors stated that they were unable to conduct a meta-analysis on otheroutcomes due to heterogeneity.
Moststudies suggest that probiotics are effective against chemotherapy-induceddiarrhea. The same Cochrane review included 3 RCTs in its analysis anddemonstrated that probiotics significantly decreased the occurrence of anydiarrhea compared with placebo (pooled risk ratio; 0.59; 95% CI, 0.36-0.96).6
Sincethis meta-analysis, a phase 1/2 RCT evaluated the effect of high-doseprobiotics versus placebo on chemotherapy-induced diarrhea.7Patients began treatment 2 weeks prior to chemotherapy initiation and continueduntil 2 weeks after their third cycle.
Probiotics significantly decreased theincidence of all grades of diarrhea with 199 cases compared with 220 cases withplacebo (P =.019). Though there was atrend toward a lower incidence of grade 3 (8% vs 4%; P =.088) or grade 4 (2% vs 0%; P=.
05) diarrhea, the difference was not significant.
Another smallRCT assigned patients with lung cancer to receive probiotics or placebo 3 timesdaily for 3 weeks beginning the day before their first platinum-basedmultiagent chemotherapy.
8 Probiotics were significantly associatedwith a higher rate of no diarrhea (75%) compared with placebo (38%; P =.
017), with lower rates of grade 1(20% vs 43%) and grade 2 (5% vs 14%) diarrhea, with similar rates of grade 3(0% vs
Probiotics and Cancer: Boosting the Immune System
There is new evidence that probiotics and cancer are related. Microbes often found in yogurt can boost the immune system and help beat malignant diseases!
At least this helps explain why some people respond so well to immune treatment for their cancers, while others get no benefit. After all, a lot of people are spending a lot of money on these “hot” new anticancer agents.
The so-called “miracle cancer drug” Keytruda alone earned about $7 billion last year. But many patients come up empty-handed.
Could the reason be the state of their gut bacteria? And could a simple solution be to take probiotics and eat more yogurt to prevent or fight cancer?
Yes, yogurt. And here’s why: Within our GI tract there is a huge collection of bacteria. Scientists call this our microbiome. And in a healthy person there are about 100 trillion bacterial cells. In fact, microbes in the gut outnumber human cells three to one. While a few species are harmful, these are held in check by friendly bacteria.
In fact, doctors call these GI hitchhikers “commensals.” This word means for “eating at the same table.” The “table” in this case is us. Or at least our bowels. And these bugs have got a cozy gig.
In fact, we provide them with a warm and safe home. They eat what we eat. But they, in turn, provide us with digestive power. They improve our general health and well-being.
And they strengthen our immune systems.
The Russian Connection
So, if we improve the mix of microbes in our gut, we improve our response to disease. Such was the theory of the 19th century scientist, Ilya Metchnikoff, PhD. This Russian won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of phagocytes.
Therefore, these are a major part of the immune system. He later claimed that aging was caused by bad bacteria in the gut. And, as a result, he told people that they should eat more yogurt.
He also said that the long lifespan of Bulgarian peasants came from eating yogurt every day.
https://www..com/watch?v=R9RJBgNB1ZI Dannon Yogurt Commercial (1977)
So, many scientists ridiculed him for his belief in yogurt. But there is new evidence that bacteria in yogurt are good for cancer patients.
Article continues below…
Microbes Good for Cancer Patients
In fact, this has always been a favorite topic for health food devotees. But there is a very positive write-up on gut microbes in the 2019 edition of the DeVita cancer textbook.
You see, for decades, this book has been the bastion of cancer orthodoxy. Its editor, Vincent DeVita, Jr., MD, was one of the founders of chemotherapy.
Yet now this book contains a section on the “Microbiome and Cancer,” written by a doctor from the National Cancer Institute. It contains the following statement:
“The gut microbiota composition regulates the responsiveness to anti- PD-1/PD-L1 cancer therapy.”
You see, anti PD-1/PD-L1 anticancer therapy means the new immune checkpoint inhibitors. These include Keytruda and Opdivo. And James P. Allison, PhD, of Houston, won the 2018 Nobel Prize for this work. The textbook goes on:
“Cancer patients with a healthier, highly diverse microbiota…appear to be able to mount a more robust anti-tumor immune response…with increased probability of a favorable clinical response.”
Enhanced Immunity with Yogurt
In other words, the healthier the gut microbes, such as those found in yogurt, the more ly the cancer patient will respond to immune therapy.
IMMUNE CHECKPOINT INHIBITORS: WILL THEY WORK FOR YOU?Probiotics and Cancer: Another way to make Immune Checkpoint Drugs Work for You
So, how do you enhance crucial gut bacteria? University of Chicago researchers examined this question. They showed that mice that did not respond to immune treatment could be “rescued by…a probiotic cocktail” of Bifido species, including B. breve and B. longum. Getting these good bacteria increased anticancer immune responses.
Then, when this “cocktail” was combined with the immune treatment it was “very effective in blocking tumor progression.” In addition, the Chicago paper contained an amazing idea.
Feeding Bifido bacteria to mice was as effective as the immune checkpoint drugs! And a combination of bacteria and drugs “nearly abolished” the growth of tumors!
A Probiotic Rich Dessert
To address probiotics and cancer, first and foremost eat yogurt every day. Avoid sweetened yogurts, as these have empty calories and could raise your blood sugar.
Go for plain fermented whole yogurt that states on the label that it include “Bifido” bacteria. Fage unsweetened whole milk (5% fat) Greek yogurt is one brand that contains “Bifido.
” Others are Stonyfield Farms plain, organic 100% grass-fed Greek yogurt. Also Califa Farms dairy-free yogurt drink.
To make a fabulous dessert, add berries, coconut chips, and some nuts to make a healthful parfait.
Probiotic Supplements for Cancer
In an earlier version of this blog we advocated taking a broad-spectrum probiotic. However, new information has called that recommendation into question. In a report to be released at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), M.D.
Anderson/Parker Institute scientists show that cancer patients have a weaker response to immunotherapy when they take probiotic supplements. This finding is of course paradoxical.
It may relate only to supplements that contain one or two particular strains of bacteria, rather than broad-spectrum products. Nonetheless, for the moment, at least, we are removing our recommendation to take a supplement.
It seems far more important to get abundant fiber in the diet, something that we discuss in our report on making “Ralph’s Superior Seed Cracker.”
Danger of Antibiotics
On the other hand, the same AACR report reaffirmed that if cancer patients had antibiotic treatment in the previous two months, they were less ly to respond to immune treatment. In the words of the DeVita textbook:
Antibiotic treatment “hampers the response to [immune] therapy, reducing in half the progression free survival of the patients.”
I would also avoid any supermarket chickens that have been fed antibiotics. According to a report on National Public Radio:
“Many large poultry farms feed antibiotics to their chickens in an effort to prevent disease. But…humans who eat those chickens are at risk of developing not only antibiotic-resistant gastrointestinal infections, but also urinary tract infections as well.”
You can now add a damaged immune system to that list.
A high-fiber diet and cancer treatments may work together, however, if you can restore your immune system through diet.
Cost of Probiotic Cancer Treatment
Treatment with Keytruda costs each patient $12,500 a month. That’s $150,000 a year. But taking probiotics and for cancer will set you back about $1 per day. Yogurt is even cheaper, especially if you make it at home.
Also, while Keytruda and Opdivo often cause serious side effects, eating yogurt is pleasant. Using high-fiber foods and yogurt as ways of fighting cancer may pay off big time in terms of immunity. It is certainly worth a try.
Here you can watch Dr. Moss speak on this topic.
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We at Moss Reports have no financial interest in any of the products mentioned in this report.