It seems like everywhere you turn, there are news articles about what sort of foods, drinks, medicines, and environmental factors that increase your risk of getting certain types of cancer. Since those are often alarming, it is nice to hear about something that is within your power to help lower your risk of certain types of cancers, including colon cancer.

A recent study helped prove that there is a relationship between gut microbiota and colon cancer. What exactly is gut microbiota? Your intestine is filled with microorganisms that perform a wide array of tasks. They help the body digest foods, produce some vitamins, and assist in maintaining a healthy immune system. The study that was performed involved cancer prone rats that were injected with various types and combinations of gut microbiota. The results showed that after 6 months, the rats with a specific type of microorganisms, LEW gut microbiota, developed significantly fewer tumors than the other rats, with two of them not having developed any tumors at all.

Although it’s not a failsafe bet against colon cancer, and there are many genetic factors that may be at play as well, it is good news to know that there is something within your reach to help prevent it. Maintaining the gut microbiota in your body can be done with certain diets. There are certain foods, mainly traditional fermented foods, which contain the beneficial lactic acid producing bacteria. Fermented foods include yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, Kefir, and pickled vegetables. Probiotic supplements are also available in powder or pill forms.

As with many health concerns, it’s always important to talk to your doctor. Balancing gut microbiota through diet is not going to completely take away your risk of colon cancer, especially if you have a family history of the disease. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you, have regular exams, and keep an eye on your body and discuss any health changes with your doctor.  If you are age 50 or older, call to schedule your screening colonoscopy with one of the doctors at Asheville Gastro.