A new study has hinted that people may show better responses if they have been undergoing therapy that boosts their immune system for advanced melanoma if they eat a diet high in fiber content.
According To Researchers Cancer Survival Boosted By High Fiber Diet
Much more study is required, according to the researchers. They said that it had been suggested by their initial findings that fiber-rich foods in melanoma patients and in lab mice might help them with the therapy by affecting the gut bacteria.
Signs that this benefit may be suppressed were seen with probiotic supplements.
Treatments that use the help of the immune system in order to kill tumors are known as immunotherapy. The way in which the cancer patients’ response to immunotherapy was looked at by the study.
The trillions of bacteria and other microbes that naturally dwell in the human body are called the microbiome. These bacteria mainly live in the human gut.
Metabolism, nutrient synthesis, immune defenses and brain function are affected by these microbes. The body’s normal processes require these microbes.
Dr. Emeran Mayer said that there are continuous interactions between gut bacteria and immune system cells.
Mayer explained that a key role is played by gut bacteria in the education and training of the immune system. One factor in the composition of the gut microbiome comes in the form of fiber.
Certain types of bacteria are fed by fiber. This includes ones that produce fatty acids, which are short chains. These have anti-tumor activity and are anti-inflammatory.
It has been shown that cancer patients’ responses to immune checkpoint inhibitors by research in the past. Keytruda and Opdivo are such drugs. These are used for the treatment of multiple forms of cancer.
They release a brake on the T-cells of the immune system, and they are freed to find and attack cancerous cells.
Dr. Jennifer Wargo, the author of the study, said that an intriguing question is whether diet can alter patients’ responses to those treatments.
One hundred twenty-eight patients who had melanoma were studied by her team in order to investigate the deadliest type of skin cancer.
It was shown by diet questionnaires that 37 of those patients had fiber intake, which was ‘sufficient’. This consisted of a minimum of 20g a day coming from vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains. In the rest, there was too little dietary fiber.
The study found that, on average, patients who ate more fiber responded better to immunotherapy.
There was a 76% response rate to immunotherapy compared to the 60% of those who had a low amount of fiber. The meaning of this is that there was a regression of the tumors or cancer had remained stable, at least.
Among the 49 patients who said that they used probiotic supplements, no such benefit was found. Patients who ate a lot of fiber and consumed no probiotics showed the best response.
It is yet to be proved that fiber was the reason for this.
Lab mice that had melanoma tumors were studied next. It was found that the animals’ response to immune checkpoint inhibitors was affected when they were given probiotic supplements that are available commercially.
In mice that had a diet high in fiber, the T-cell activity was boosted and it seemed to even slow down the growth of the tumor. On the other hand, in mice that had no gut bacteria, giving them a high fiber diet made no difference.
Wargo said that the gut microbiome helped the diet to exert its effects.
Wargo said that people, after being diagnosed with cancer, want to do whatever they can to support their treatment and take control.
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