Sunday, November 8, 2015

Cooties in our gut keep us skinny, smart and cure cancer!?????

The cooties in our gut have been the hottest thing in research, and news about research, of late.  It is not as new as some folks would like to have you believe.  We have known for some time now, that a little dirt don't hurt.  Kids have become less immune to disease and more susceptible to various immune problems like asthma and allergies since the world got cleaner around them.  Concomitantly, they do die less from pneumonia and dysentery!!!  Just say'n!  On the other hand, as humans become more willing to take, and docs to prescribe, antibiotics for a cold (That's a virus people!!!  Antibiotics kill bacteria....not a virus!) and allow farmers to feed them in large quantities to animals that end up on our grills, we haven't cured a single virus, but we have killed a lot of important bacteria that should be living in our guts. 

Additionally, the diet most Americans low in fiber, fruits and vegetables....but filled with processed, "fast" food....does us no favors.  Rats fed more fiber eat less than their fiber-free counterparts, are thinner, faster and live longer.  Studies in real live people show that the fiber does that in an obvious way, but also changes the microbes in our gut as the "good" germs like to eat the fiber!!!  If there's no fiber there for them to eat, they aren't there!!!  So, along with obesity prevention, scientists are now touting the benefit of good germs in our gut to promote brain development, improved cognitive behaviors, and prevent neurologic disorders.  The latest reports also seem to show that good bacteria in our intestines can promote the beneficial effects of immunotherapy....

The Atlantic: 11/2015 - Immunotherapy cancer drugs depend on gut microbes

Commensal Bifidobacterium promotes antitumor immunity and facilitates anti-PD-L1 efficacy.
Sivan, Corrales, Hubert, et al.  Science. 2015 Nov 5.
"T cell infiltration of solid tumors is associated with favorable patient outcomes, yet the mechanisms underlying variable immune responses between individuals are not well understood. One possible modulator could be the intestinal microbiota. We compared melanoma growth in mice harboring distinct commensal microbiota and observed differences in spontaneous antitumor immunity, which were eliminated upon cohousing or following fecal transfer. 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing identified Bifidobacterium as associated with the antitumor effects. Oral administration of Bifidobacterium alone improved tumor control to the same degree as anti-PD-L1 therapy (checkpoint blockade), and combination treatment nearly abolished tumor outgrowth. Augmented dendritic cell function leading to enhanced CD8+ T cell priming and accumulation in the tumor microenvironment mediated the effect. Our data suggest that manipulating the microbiota may modulate cancer immunotherapy."

None of this is really surprising.  We already knew how much difference the microbes within our intestines made in the presence of allergies and immunologic based diseases. And, yes, in some medical cases, like the treatment of c. difficile, we have even found that fecal transplants are needed!!! Of course it makes sense that this "background note" would affect drugs and treatments that work by stimulating the immune system!!!  However, once is important to remember that this is not the end all, be all, to cancer and all sorts of diseases.  It goes back to the same old song.  There is no miracle drug or diet.  Doing something extreme or bizarre with your diet is not going to change your world or your cancer.  But....if you will exercise, eat your fruits and will set yourself up to be the healthiest you can.  Want to increase the bifidobacterium in your gut?  No problem.  Eat yogurt with live cultures.  Drink kefir or buttermilk.  Enjoy kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), sauerkraut, miso, and other fermented fruits and veg.  And after that...take a walk...preferably while holding hands with a good friend.
Love and luck - c


  1. The Atlantic is one of my favorite magazines to read when I'm NOT reading about cancer, and they end up publishing a story about good bacteria's influence on immunotherapy before anywhere else.....A subject I just thought to look up two weeks ago and found nothing. Round of yogurts on me! Thanks for posting!

  2. For those wishing to supplement with probiotics it is important to note that the particular strain of Bifidobacterium you take is important. There are many, and most probiotic companies don't list the full name of the probiotics contained in their product. The probiotic used in the study was Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 and the only company I could find that carried it was Align. With the support of my oncologist I am currently taking it daily to boost my response to my immunotherapy treatments. Though the treatments are already shrinking my lung tumor I figure everything I can do to improve and support my immune system helps now and in the long run. Since I've had a couple rounds of antibiotics lately to calm infections and fevers related to my ipi/nivo immunotherapy treatments I also take a probiotic that contains a larger array of probiotics, just as insurance. Plus, of course, a diet chock full of fruit and veggies. I wish I liked kimchi!

    I love your blog and have found it to be about the best source anywhere for the latest and greatest in melanoma treatments. As a Stage IV newbie, I am very grateful for your knowledge and positivity. Thanks so much!