Scientists say probiotics and green tea could help to lower cancer risk
Jaw-dropping science facts part 5
One in three of us will suffer from cancer in our lifetimes, and despite the basic advice: (eat less meat, get your five-a-day, don't smoke, etc), there's really nothing we can do to eliminate the risk entirely. Or is there?
An article in the Telegraph caught our eye recently when it listed fermented probiotic food and drinks as a scientifically proven way to avoid the disease. In a fascinating feature called 'Eight proven ways to prevent cancer', author Anna Magee writes:
"It has been long known that cancers are caused by a combination of our genes, diet and lifestyle. However, as we gradually understand more about epigenetics - the way our genes are switched on and off by factors in our environment – the more we will discover about what we can do to help turn on genes linked with cancer protection and switch off those linked with causing it. Research shows small lifestyle changes could prevent a staggering 40 cent of Britain’s cancers."
In addition to eating more fibre, taking a daily aspirin and exercising more, Magee- editor of healthista.com- recommends getting as much good bacteria into your gut as possible.
"Our gut bacteria or micro-biome has recently been linked to everything from mood to obesity, and a growing number of studies are now linking it to a lowered cancer risk," Magee writes.
The latest, published in April in the journal PLOS One, gave one group of mice beneficial bacteria through probiotic supplements while the other group were given non-beneficial bacteria. The mice receiving the good bacteria produced metabolites known to prevent cancer in their guts, and were also better able to metabolise fats, which the researchers said could help lower the risk of cancer.
"The results are positive and that’s probably because the microbes help break down some of the toxins in the gut that might normally cause cancer, but also because they keep the immune system in great shape generally so it beats off cancer cells," says Tim Spector, professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, founder of the British Gut Project and author of The Diet Myth (Weidenfeld and Nicholson £8.99).
Prof Spector recommends: "To keep your gut bacteria healthy, eat a mix of probiotic foods such as live yoghurt, kefir (fermented milk drink) and sauerkraut as well as prebiotic foods such as fruit, vegetables and high fibre whole grains and legumes to feed bacteria and help it grow."
This is by no means the only scientific study to make such bold claims about the wonders of probiotics for cancer prevention. In May this year, researchers in Hong Kong developed and successfully tested a probiotic mixture called Prohep which was proven to reduce liver cancer in rats. Scientists found that healthy gut bacteria administered to rats reduced tumours by as much as 40%. This is very exciting news and researchers hope to begin testing on cancer patients in due course- we will keep you updated with any progress!
In a third study, carried out by researchers at the University of Brighton in December 2012, catechins in green tea were tested for their potential effect to reduce cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk and weight loss. While scientists stopped short of declaring the study a roaring success, they did indeed find positive signs that green tea- as used in the fermentation of kombucha- could reduce the risk of contracting the disease. Researchers concluded:
"There is some positive evidence for risk reduction of breast, prostate, ovarian and endometrial cancers with green tea. RCTs of green tea and cardiovascular risk factors suggest that green tea may reduce low-density lipoproteins and total cholesterol.”
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Disclaimer: Equinox kombucha makes no health claims, we simply publish interesting scientific news relating to our product. The consumption of kombucha (and other fermented food and drinks) should never replace proper medical treatment wherever necessary.