Scientists at the University of California-Los Angeles have determined certain strains of intestinal bacteria raise the risk of a form of blood cancer, in the latest in a series of studies suggesting digestive health is key to a person’s overall well-being.
In new finding published in the journal Cancer Research, Medical investigators from UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center discovered specific types of bacteria that live in the gut are major contributors to lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells.
The researchers said the study, which was based on experiments involving laboratory mice, provides compelling evidence that gut bacteria play a major role in longevity, genetic instability, inflammation, and cancer.
"This study is the first to show a relationship between intestinal microbiota and the onset of lymphoma," said Robert Schiestl, a member of the Jonsson Cancer Center and professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, environmental health sciences, and radiation oncology.
"Given that intestinal microbiota is a potentially modifiable trait, these results hold considerable promise for intervention of B-cell lymphoma and other diseases."
Schiestl noted past studies have linked intestinal bacteria to obesity, intestinal inflammation, and certain types of epithelial cancers (affecting the coverings of the stomach, liver, or colon.) Up to 1,000 different species of bacteria live in the human gut, adding up to about 100 trillion cells.
For the study, the scientists were able to create a detailed catalog of bacteria types that appear to have both cancer-promoting and anti-cancer effects. The list could be used in the future to create combined therapies that kill the bacteria that promote cancer (as antibiotics do) and increase the presence of the bacteria that protect from cancer (as probiotics do), Schiestl said.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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