Why are rates of colon cancer (CRC) rising across the globe?
Much blame goes to the “Western diet” with its red meat, processed foods and low fiber content, a deadly menu now exported into the remotest regions of the earth. Of course, our “Western medicine” via colonoscopy can find polyps and laser them out before cancer takes hold; prevention of sorts for wealthy countries.
Happily, we ALL have the toolbox to prevent most colon cancers: included are exercise, high-fiber foods and fermented products. The last two deliver probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, and metabiotics, alternative strategies catching the attention of scientists. (Avoiding tobacco, alcohol and toxins are also paramount.)
Note that such a regimen is not all that revolutionary: it is one we abandoned less than a century ago (a blink in human existence) to the charms of cheap sugary and fatty foods wrapped in promise.
Yogurts, kimchi, kefir, pickles and other cultured products ooze with probiotics. While stellar themselves, probiotics also create various substances called metabiotics. These lesser known metabolites may be preferred in some cases when live probiotics are risky.
Mridul Sharma and Geeta Shukla published Metabiotics: One Step ahead of Probiotics; an Insight into Mechanisms Involved in Anticancerous Effect in Colorectal Cancer in Frontiers in Microbiology last year.
“metabiotics, the multifunctional metabolites produced by probiotics have been found to possess remarkable antimutagenic, antiinflammatory, antiproliferative and even antimetastatic potentials attributed to their epigenetic effects in one or other way, and may target CRC at different stages.”
Read this excellent review to also learn of adverse effects which can be caused by probiotics, a topic sometimes minimized among stakeholders in the industry.
On the other hand, metabiotics deserve celebration.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are the most studied. They are nothing short of remarkable as they:
- Induce enzymes that prevent cancer
- Reduce enzymes that promote cancer
- Improve mineral absorption
- Increase gut motility
- Increase mucosal weight
- Inhibit inflammation
SCFAs aren’t the only bioactive factors derived from probiotics. Peptides, EPSs, peptidoglycan, single layer proteins, lipoteichoic acids, conjugated linoleic acids and peptides are also active, according to researchers.
“Thus, metabiotics independently or in conjunction with other approaches could be considered as a potent prophylactic/or therapeutic modulator for colon cancer or other diseases in the post-antibiotic era.”