Microbiome 101 What exactly is the microbiome? The

simple answer is that the human microbiome is the community of bacteria that actually live on and inside the human host. Human beings are inhabited by trillions of bacterial micro- organisms known as microbes, which reside in the skin, the oral cavity, the urogenital tract and the gastrointestinal system.

The human body is made up of around 10 trillion cells, but it contains around 100 trillion microbial cells, meaning there are 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells in the body. The majority of microbes reside in the intestines, where they play a vital role in the digestive sys-

By J O S H T I L L

2 U A B C O M P R E H E N S I V E C A N C E R C E N T E R

The Microbiomei r i The Impact of Bacteria on Cancer and You

The majority of

microbes reside

in the intestines,

where they play

a vital role in the

digestive system

by helping

digest food and

converting it

into energy and

nutrients for the

body.

tem by helping digest food and converting it into energy and nutrients for the body.

The microbiome immediately begins forming upon birth, and the make-up of the microbiome depends on the delivery method. Babies born vaginally inherit their microbes from their mother s vagina, while those born via C-section pick up com- pletely different microbes from the mother s skin. In the first three months of life, as the baby grows and its diet changes, the microbi- ome begins to change to a more normal micro- biome unique to that individual.

The food we eat also influences the microbes

There s no escaping it bacteria are all around us. And while some bacteria

are bad for you, there are bacteria that our bodies need to maintain a healthy

state of being. Those trillions of bacteria that live on the human body from

your skin to your mouth to your digestive system comprise what is referred

to as the microbiome, and it has a tremendous impact on your health.

Scientists at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center are leading the way in

researching and understanding this complex system and its impact on cancer

and other diseases.

In this issue of UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, we invite you to take

a journey with us and get to know our microbiomes and ourselves a

little better.

Because of the large

amount of microbes

in the gut, colorectal

cancer in particular is

a concern for those

with an unhealthy

microbiome.