Next time you are outside gardening, take a closer look at the soil you are digging into. Did you know that some of the bacteria in that soil may be protecting you against melanoma cancer?
This is precisely what new research has found.
Mysteries of melanoma
As I discussed at length in my book on the healing power of the sun, there is still a lot to learn about skin cancer and melanoma.
For example, many cases of melanoma occur on skin rarely if ever exposed to the sun. This is despite the chorus of conventional medicine that states that the sun is the primary cause of melanoma.
Furthermore, we find that melanoma rates are often lower in regions where year-round sun exposure is greater. Does this sound like the sun is the primary cause of melanoma?
These points are important because even though sunscreen use has continued to increase every year, people are increasingly dying from melanoma. The incidence of melanoma has increased about one percent per year since 2009 according to a study from the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine.
Despite increased sunscreen use, between 2009 and 2016, melanoma incidence grew from 22.2 per 100,000 people to 23.6 per 100,000 people.
Each year in the United States, over 80,000 cases of melanoma are newly diagnosed. And more than 9,000 people die from melanoma every year.
Further to nature’s mysteries is how many species of bacteria are tuned into the human body. Many bacteria will protect the human body. Most often, this comes in the form of producing chemicals that fight off other pathogens or stimulate the immune system.
This is the case for many of the microbes we find within the body. This includes oral bacteria, gut bacteria, bacteria that live in other areas, such as the skin, eyes, ears and vagina. So many species of bacteria are helping to protect our body.
For example, certain gut bacteria help protect us from colon cancer.
That’s because our body provides a home for these bacteria. Unlike the way humans treat our planet, long-term bacterial colonizers of our body will overtly protect our body from many threats, as I discuss in my book on probiotics.
Soil bacteria help protect against melanoma
Now we find that the soil contains species of bacteria that help protect our skin from melanoma.
Researchers from Oregon State University found that a species of bacteria called Streptomyces bottropensis produces a metabolite that kills melanoma cancer cells.
The researchers, led by Dr. Sandra Loesgen and Dr. Birte Plitzko, found that this metabolite called mensacarcin, attacks and kills melanoma cells. The compound destroys the mitochondria of the cancer cells.
Mitochondria are the energy plants of the cell. You take those out and the cell takes a dive.
Dr. Loesgen described how attacking mitochondrion was a great solution provided by nature:
“Mensacarcin has potent anticancer activity, with selectivity against melanoma cells. It shows powerful anti-proliferative effects in all tested cancer cell lines in the U.S. Cancer Institute’s cell line panel, but inhibition of cell growth is accompanied by fast progression into cell death in only a small number of cell lines, such as melanoma cells.”
In order to track the compound in living melanoma cells, the researchers utilized a probe of fluorescent material to monitor the compound’s effects among the cancer cells. This illustrated that mensacarcin immediately interrupted the melanoma cells’ energy production by changing mitochondria channels. Dr. Loesgen recalled:
“The probe was localized to mitochondria within 20 minutes of treatment. The localization together with mensacarcin’s unusual metabolic effects in melanoma cells provide evidence that mensacarcin targets mitochondria.”
The researchers also found that once mensacarcin altered the mitochondria, it activated the cell’s programming to kick the bucket: programmed cell death.
Do we have to wait until the compound is synthesized?
The isolation of this compound from the bacteria was uncovered by German researchers in 2004. Research from the Institute of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry at the George August University analyzed the substance and began immediately attempting to synthesize it.
This has proved difficult. Then 2015 research showed that the compound was produced through a complex genetic process by the bacteria using a gene cluster. Yes, duplicating nature is often super hard.
Certainly, a synthetic version of the substance could be a boon for cancer treatment medicine.
For now, perhaps we can just keep gardening, and be liberal with our contact with the soil.
As usual, nature is damn smart.
(If you have been diagnosed with cancer be sure to talk to your doctor before employing any natural therapies.)
Plitzko B, Kaweesa EN, Loesgen S. The natural product mensacarcin induces mitochondrial toxicity and apoptosis in melanoma cells. J Biol Chem. 2017 Dec 22;292(51):21102-21116. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.774836.
Dirt-dwelling microbe … anti-melanoma weapon. Oregon State University. January 4, 2018.
Maier S, Heitzler T, Asmus K, Brötz E, Hardter U, Hesselbach K, Paululat T, Bechthold A. Functional characterization of different ORFs including luciferase-like monooxygenase genes from the mensacarcin gene cluster. Chembiochem. 2015 May 26;16(8):1175-82. doi: 10.1002/cbic.201500048.
Tietze LF, Stewart SG, Polomska ME, Modi A, Zeeck A. Towards a total synthesis of the new anticancer agent mensacarcin: synthesis of the carbocyclic core. Chemistry. 2004 Oct 11;10(20):5233-42.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.