A new study has shown that vitamin K and the probiotic lactobacillus rhamnosus GG may inhibit colon cancer - the third most prolific cancer in the world.
What are prebiotics, probiotics and symbiotic - what’s the difference?
Probiotics, you might have seen the term on drinkable yogurts for example, are live bacteria that may have a healthy effect on the body. A prebiotic is the food that the probiotic eats.
Prebiotics are found in whole grains, onions, honey, garlic and bananas. When prebiotics and probiotics combine they are known as symbiotic, or ‘two co-existing together’.
Probiotics and Cancer
There is evidence that probiotics have a beneficial effect against cancer.
The microbiomes of our bodies can influence cancer by suppressing tumours or even causing them depending on the relationships of micro-organisms present.
Our diets and environment have a direct impact on our gut microbiomes. For example, short chain fatty acids impede the growth of colo-rectal cancer cells lines and these short chain fatty acids are created by bacteria fermenting from fibre intake.
Some studies have shown that pre and probiotics could be used in chemoprevention strategies. Chemoprevention is when an agent is used to inhibit invasive cancer by preventing DNA damage or the progression of damaged cells.
Probiotic strategies are increasingly being investigated as a source of potential anti-cancer treatments.
What Does Vitamin K do?
Vitamin K is essential for healthy blood clotting to prevent excess bleeding, and it transports calcium which leads to stronger bones. Vitamin K has also produced some positive results on cancer cells.
Vitamin K is found in leafy green vegetables - the kind of fibrous food that creates cancer-impeding short-chain fatty acids.
What Is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG (L-GG)?
L-GG is a bacterium that exists primarily in the intestines. It’s also added to food products as the ‘friendly bacteria’ we often hear about.
What was the new study?
The study ‘Antiproliferative effects on colon adenocarcinoma cells induced by co-administration of vitamin K1 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG’ examined whether a combination of vitamin K and the pro-biotic lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (L-GG) could affect colon cancer cells.
In its own right L-GG has inhibited cell proliferation and brought about gastrointestinal cancer cell apoptosis. Apoptosis is when the cancer cell spontaneously dies rather than being killed by chemo for example.
Researchers evaluated three different samples of colon cancer cells on which increasing amounts of vitamin K were added, either alone or with the L-GG probiotic.
What are the results?
Bringing the two cancer inhibitors together uncovered some strong results.
On their own vitamin K and L-GG inhibits colon cancer cells and causes apoptosis, but together, particularly with higher doses of vitamin K, their combined strength has an even greater effect.
Researchers suggest that the co-administration of the two substances form an option for food strategies against cancer growth and in chemoprevention.
More studies are needed but action against cancer in terms of food sources is very exciting. It could be that by changing our diets we prevent cancer forming or halt its progression.
In the meantime let‘s all take care of our gut microbiome because it could be the key to defeating cancer.
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