Organization: Possible key to bacterial invasion for some colon cancers

A growing body of evidence indicates that the trillions of bacteria that live in the digestive tract – might play a role in altering cancer risk. Now, a study suggests that how those bacteria are organized and where they are located in the gut might influence the risk of certain colon cancers.

BacteriaThe study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, focused on biofilms – communities of bacteria that help bacteria communicate with each other and grow more efficiently.

When bacteria organize into biofilms, they can breach the protective inner layer in the gut and invade the local tissue, promoting inflammation and possibly cancer.

We have an interesting relationship with the bacteria in our gut. Although many of the microbes provide beneficial services, bacteria – both “good” and “bad” – can cause us harm, so we keep them all at arm’s length, so to speak. Normal, healthy tissue in the colon is coated with a two-layered covering of mucus –a mesh-like outer layer and a gel-like inner layer. Whereas the outer layer creates a moist, cozy environment for bacteria, the inner layer is less hospitable: it provides the last line of defense against their invasion.

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Less Red and Processed Meat? New Guidelines May Help Reduce Cancer Risk

16939621_sThis year, for the first time, the US Dietary Guidelines committee may recommend that Americans eat less red and processed meat, a key recommendation from AICR for lowering cancer risk. Every five years, the US Dietary Guidelines are updated based on the committee recommendations and they are due out this year.

According to reports from the committee’s most recent discussions, the 2015 nutrition and eating guidelines may also call for Americans to eat more plant foods, like vegetables, fruit, beans and whole grains, also an AICR recommendation. Research shows that eating patterns like this – more plant foods and minimal red meat –  can help prevent obesity and chronic diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

These 2015 guidelines may also call for lower sodium and specific limits on added sugars.

If enacted, these recommendations will better align with AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention and could, in the long-term, lead to fewer cancer cases. AICR estimates that about 1/3 of the most common cancer cases every year in the US wouldn’t happen if Americans followed a healthy diet, were physically active every day and maintained a healthy weight.

Guidelines like this will inform dietary advice for individuals, but will also set in motion changes for school lunches and other government food and nutrition programs. Read more about the guidelines at health.gov.


Healthy, Hearty Sweet Potato Bean Soup

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Photo by Heather Victoria Photography

Beans have always come in handy when animal proteins were scarce; now they can stand in for red meat when you’re trying to cut back to eating no more than 3 ounces of lean red meat per day, as AICR recommends for lower cancer risk.

For a warming and satisfying meal, look no further than our Health-e-Recipe for Sweet Potato Bean Soup. Almost a stew, This rich-tasting soup is based on a rich low-sodium chicken broth enhanced with tomato paste, a product high in the protective phytochemical lycopene.

Simmered with nutritious onions and celery, chopped sweet potato chunks add plenty of the cancer-preventive phytochemical beta-carotene (also present in other orange vegetables and fruits, like carrots). Continue reading