Can 'Chinese Soup' Help Fight Cancer?
| LAST UPDATE 03/28/2023
An experimental treatment called fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), colloquially known as "Chinese soup," could aid cancer recovery, decrease relapse rates, and potentially prevent drug-resistant bacterial infections. The treatment involves extracting good bacteria from a healthy, screened donor's poop and transplanting them into the patient. A clinical trial conducted on twenty patients at Imperial College London found that the FMT approach resulted in less need for antibiotics, reduced risk of blood infections, and shorter hospital stays.
A follow-up analysis published in the Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology journal in 2021 showed that roughly 70% of the patients who received FMT were still alive after twelve months, compared to historically only 36% survival rate for patients with high levels of disease. Although the treatment's impact is hard to determine, the findings suggest that FMT could benefit cancer patients. Experts believe that a healthy and diversified gut microbiome could help reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer. Conversely, an unhealthy gut microbiome caused by poor diet and habits can cause inflammation in the gut lining, leading to bowel cancer. Dr. James Kinross, a microbiome scientist and colorectal consultant surgeon at Imperial College London, explains that the microbiome plays a crucial role in shaping the immune system's response to cancer. Recent research has shown that the microbiome can impact the efficacy of cancer treatments, affecting how cancer progresses in the body.
While cancer centers in the US now screen patients for their gut microbiomes as part of their standard testing, people can take several steps, such as reducing processed food consumption and increasing fiber and fermented food intake, to maintain a healthy microbiome. However, the FMT approach should be carefully screened as disturbing the microbiome's balance may have risks and harms.
In conclusion, the FMT approach could aid cancer recovery and potentially prevent bacterial infections. Alongside a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy microbiome could help reduce the risk of getting bowel cancer and improve the efficacy of cancer treatments. However, further research is required to understand the treatment's impact fully.