According to the National Cancer Institute, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. One theory as to why is that we consume a diet high in carbohydrates. Understanding how a high carbohydrate diet could cause colon cancer has been unclear. However, a recent study published in the journal of Cell attributes this claim to the possibility that gut microbes metabolize carbohydrates we eat, and cause intestinal cells to proliferate and form tumors in mice. You can learn more about the causes, symptoms, risk factors and treatments of this cancer here – colon cancer information.

Gut Microbes may play a role in creating Colon Cancer?

gut microbes and bacteriaMicrobes are tiny organisms—too tiny to see without a microscope and millions of microbes could fit into the eye of a needle. A common word for microbes that cause disease is germs. The Gut Microbe consists of all the bacteria that live with us in our colon. They play an important role in helping to produce vital nutrients and assist in the breakdown of waste.

Because colorectal cancer is associated with aggressive and rapid tumor development it is critical to understand how environmental factors such as microbes and diet interact with our genetic makeup to affect disease progression. This study provides novel insight into how gut bacteria interact with a carbohydrate rich diet.

When bacteria breakdown carbohydrates in our intestines, they release certain by-products that cause a local inflammatory cascade. This low level inflammation is the theory as to why carbohydrates may lead to tumor growth. (It is this low level inflammation that is also felt to cause the “leaky gut” syndrome, which is a whole separate topic).

To explain how these tumors develop, the researchers took mice and treated them with either antibiotics or a low carbohydrate diet. Shockingly, both groups had a reduced number of tumors in the colon. Taken together the findings suggest that carbohydrate by-products produced by gut microbes, drive tumor development in these mice. This is the first direct link between gut microbes and how they interact with carbohydrates causing tumor development.

I realize some people may think that getting antibiotics may prevent colon cancer, BUT in my next blog I will explain why TAKING antibiotics may cause colon cancer in a large human study recently published.

The Human Microbiome (all the bacteria living with you) is an area of Gastroenterology that I really love. If you are reading this, you have over 100 billion bacteria in your colon doing some impressive things right now! I would love to hear your opinions on this, so feel free to comment.


Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Discuss this information with your healthcare provider to determine what is right for you.  All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical condition