Your gut microbiota is an incredibly diverse environment populated by trillions of tiny organisms that perform all sorts of important functions behind the scenes in the human body.

The average human gut is dominated by about 150-170 different species of bacteria, although as many as 1,000 unique species can be found. That’s a lot of diversity, although humans commonly share about a third of the same species of gut bacteria.

The more diverse the bugs that inhabit your gut are, the better your health will be. Unfortunately, diseases like colon cancer harm that healthy, stable mix of gut bacteria.

A growing number of studies have shown how probiotics made from multiple strains of beneficial bacteria do a great job of making up for fluctuations in diet that deplete your diverse microbiome and treating conditions like constipation.

Multi-species probiotics may play a larger role in the treatment of colon cancer too, based on the recent findings of a small study featured in BMJ Open Gastroenterology.

A Swedish research team at the University of Gothenburg tracked the health of 15 patients with malignant cases of colon cancer who were given probiotics.

At the start, scientists studied the gut health of colon cancer patients by taking biopsies and fecal samples, then comparing them to similar samples from 21 healthy patients.

Eight patients received a probiotic containing proprietary strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis (these bacterial strains are contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic), while the rest received no probiotic.

Biopsies on colon cancer patients showed a different composition of the microbiota in tumor tissues and surrounding mucosa compared samples from healthy patients.

However, the gut health of colon cancer patients treated with probiotics improved due to the increased production of butyrate, a short chain fatty acid linked to promoting better colon health and anti-inflammatory benefits as well as inhibiting the growth of cancer cells in the intestines.

The next phase of research for researchers: Working with a larger group of patients whose colon cancer diagnoses are in a pre-malignant stage in hopes of working toward prevention.

Besides taking a multi-species probiotic, what else can you do to reduce your risks of colon cancer? Here’s four more things you can do today.

  1. Avoid excess contact with antibacterial soaps and antibiotics linked to antibacterial resistance.
  2. Take a daily supplement that includes the right amounts of calcium (1,000-1,200 mg) or vitamin D (1,000 IU) per day.
  3. Fight the obesity epidemic by losing a few pounds and moving a bit more with exercise.
  4. Get screened for colon cancer with annual blood work (a high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test) and less frequently with a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy.