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Sinusitis involves inflammation of the sinuses. About 30 million cases of sinusitis occur in the United States annually, yet its cause can be difficult to detect. For a long time, it was thought that the sinuses were sterile, but scientists now know that microbes do exist in the sinuses. A recent study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine  has found that, not only do microbes exist in the sinuses, but that a loss of microbial diversity occurs in those people with sinusitis when compared to healthy people.

Specifically, people with sinusitis had higher amounts of Cornebacterium tuburculostearicum, while healthy people were colonized with Lactobacillus sakei, a bacteria that helps prevent the development of sinusitis, based on previous studies. The lead researcher, Susan Lynch, suggests that the sinuses are home to a diverse microbiome, which includes beneficial bacteria that help protect against sinus infection.

Often, sinusitis is treated with antibiotics, yet the original cause of infection may not be bacterial at all. Sinusitis is one condition for which antibiotic overuse is cautioned against. Another author of the study, Andrew Goldberg, stated, “The premise for our understanding of chronic sinusitis and therapeutic treatment appears to be wrong, and a different therapeutic strategy seems appropriate.”

Although too early to draw conclusions about specific alternative treatments, this study alludes to the eventual use of probiotics in the treatment of sinusitis. More studies will be needed to determine what bacteria are helpful, and what treatment might work.

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A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida revealed that the microscopic organisms living in your gut may provide an early warning system for colon cancer—one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

After testing more than 90 individuals, scientists found that certain types of bacteria were common in patients who developed polyps in the colon, which can develop into cancer. Doctors hope that such “bacterial signatures” could be used to pinpoint patients who may be at higher risk for developing colon cancer, and that non-invasive screening techniques can be developed that would look at the types and number of intestinal bacteria in the gut.

Did You Know…?

Your digestive tract is home to literally trillions of individual bacteria (more than 1,000 different species), including Bifidobacteria—the most prevalent good bacteria (or probiotics) in the large intestine—and Lactobacilli, which are the most prevalent good bacteria in the small intestine.

Altogether, the beneficial microorganisms make up nearly 70 percent of your body’s immune system, so maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in the intestines is crucial to your overall health. Because everyday factors such as stress, illness, antibiotic use or even a change in routine can upset a balanced digestive environment, natural health experts recommend taking a daily high-potency probiotic for optimal digestive and immune health.

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‡This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. The material on this page is for consumer informational and educational purposes only, under section 5 of DSHEA.

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