The role of microbiota in gastrointestinal cancers
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The human microbiome plays an integral role in a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Interestingly, the GI tract is a location where microbes and their byproducts, host epithelium, and host immunity each interact with one another. As a result of this complex interplay, a signal imbalance of one may result in dysfunction. Recently, microbiota have been implicated in many disease states involving the GI tract, including chronic inflammatory states and cancer development. Their role in promoting or deterring against chronic inflammatory states is difficult to assess as their number within an intestinal population is exceedingly large, as well as the variation of microbial species found within human individuals. NSAIDs, antibiotics, and, more recently probiotics, have begun to increase in popularity for the treatment of inflammatory bowel states. Understanding the difference between “good” bacteria and “bad” bacteria can help research preventive and treatment measures for patients suffering from a microbial imbalance.