What Does Research on Cancer and Probiotics Tell Us?
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Menopause brings with it many physical changes and symptoms, such as hot flashes, low sex drive, weight gain, mood swings, and vaginal health issues. It does not attract cancer. But as you age, your risk of developing cancer increases, so you can become more concerned about it after menopause. Studies on cancer and probiotics showed that these friendly bacteria could support the therapies for several types of cancers. But let’s talk first about cancer prevention in menopause.
The average age for menopause is 51 years, and if you have yours rather late, for example, from 55, that could increase your risks of breast and endometrial cancers. This is connected to your lifetime exposure to estrogen, which is released during periods. So, the longer you are exposed to estrogen before menopause, the higher the risk.
HRT Risks, Probiotics, and Cancer
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been a solution for women’s symptoms of menopause for many years. But this therapy is not safe and comes with risks and side effects. Women who are on HRT have a more significant risk of ovarian and breast cancers. The treatment does bring relief from the symptoms of menopause, but its risks outweigh the benefits by a great deal.
HRT also does not benefit your gut microbiome. Like birth control pills, the therapy can deplete the good bacteria in your gut and weaken your immune system. Choosing HRT means that you will need to supplement with probiotics for keeping the gut flora in balance. If you want to start HRT, speak to your doctor, and learn about all the health benefits and side effects before you do. You can also find out more information in a study on hormone therapy and breast cancer risk (1).
Healthy Habits to Prevent Cancer
How can you prevent cancer in menopause? While there is no guaranteed way to achieve this at any age, there are healthy habits you can develop to reduce your risk of cancer. These tips are useful for anyone who wants to support their overall health and improve the immune system. In menopause, these habits could also help you find relief from some of your symptoms.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
As you grow older, your body changes, so you cannot continue with the same diet and the same amount of exercise as before. You need to adjust your style of life to maintain a healthy weight. As some tips for staying in a healthy weight, try smaller portion sizes so you can control calories. Choose healthy snacks instead of sugary or fatty options, exercise more, and consult your doctor about the healthy weight for your height and body type.
Exercise for Cancer Prevention
A good work out keeps your body and your mind in shape, helps you lose fat, feel happier, and prevent many health problems. Keep active even after menopause and make sure to do 30 minutes of moderate to high-intensity workouts every day. You do not have to do cardio or weight training if it does not make you happy. Such activities as cycling, swimming, jogging, or walking can become your hobby and not merely a routine.
Avoid Smoking and Alcohol
Apart from the proven increase in the risk of lung cancer, smoking is terrible for your body on many levels. That also includes second-hand smoking. Try to avoid smokers as much as you can and give up smoking if you do. Also, do not drink more than one alcoholic drink a day, and if you drink one, choose beer or wine and not hard liquor. Your body in menopause is not as strong as it used to be, so it needs some extra care and support.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is the key to the prevention of many diseases, including cancer. Fruit and veggies have a lot of antioxidants that protect your body from free radical damage. As a result, the more of those you eat, the stronger your immune system will become. Focus on whole foods in your choices, like whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, and so on. These are the foods packed with vitamins and minerals.
Probiotics and Cancer: What Is the Link?
Your gut microflora plays many vital roles for different functions in your body. It was also found that poor microflora can contribute to the development of cancer. In turn, good microflora could improve response to treatment in cancer patients (2). In case of colorectal cancer, good probiotic bacteria show promising results for reducing the risk of cancer and making cancer treatment safer. Even though more studies are needed to support these results, this is already an important start.
A study on microflora and colon cancer (3) showed a positive effect on using probiotics for improving bowel movements. Probiotic live bacteria help restore the balance of gut microflora. As a result, this could help prevent some of the unwanted side effects of chemotherapy or radiation, which damages the microflora. As a result, even though they cannot treat cancer, they could make the life of cancer patients easier by healing the gut flora and improving immune function.
Where to Find Probiotics for Cancer
In many studies on probiotics, you could find patients being given live yogurt. And this is not an accidental choice – live yogurt usually contains species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics which are among the most beneficial for your gut flora. As a result, life yogurt is one of your choices of daily probiotic foods to include in your diet. Other foods are tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, miso, and kombucha.
If you do not get enough probiotic gut bacteria from food, try taking a supplement with 5-20 billion CFUs per dose. We at MenoLabs have created a line of probiotic supplements to meet the specific needs of women in menopause. Let the probiotics work to improve your symptoms and find relief from other conditions related to gut imbalance.
(1) Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer. “Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence.”
(2) Robert Hendler and Yue Zhang. “Probiotics in the Treatment of Colorectal Cancer.”
(3) Lorenzo Drago. “Probiotics and Colon Cancer.”