Groundbreaking Project on Stress, Mindfulness, Microbiome and Cancer
I led a project with integrative medicine advocate Deepak Chopra to find cellular effects of stress and mindfulness on neuroendocrine & immune systems, gut microbes and genes. Our hypothesis that mindfulness causes gut microbes to prevent cancer is groundbreaking.
When stressed, our body anticipates physical attack, with germs seeping in. It deploys germ-killing cytokine cells. Cytokines signal the gut to produce chymase, a chemical that erodes gut wall, letting foodborne germs in. These toxic germs replace the resident good microbes that help with digestion. If we reduce stress, our good microbes are unharmed, and produce plenty of a gene-changing enzyme, histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi). HDACi is used in cancer therapy as it stops tumor growth. Mindfulness meditators have higher levels of HDACi. So we hypothesize that mindfulness reduces stress, preserving gut microbes, which then produce anti-cancer HDACi, encouraging greater adoption of mindfulness in conventional medicine.