Writing Exercise #5

Non-intentional choices that could be influencing my microbial communities potentially include the pH of the food I consume and the amount of water I drink. I would consider these things to be non-intentional because I don’t normally think about how these things could be affecting my body and my microbiota in particular. I think that the pH of the food I consume could end up having an impact on my microbiota because microbes flourish in environments with particular pHs. For example, if I need to take Pepto-Bismol or Tums I may end up creating a more basic environment in my gut even after passing through my acidic stomach. The amount of water I consume could influence my microbiota because like my own body, the microbes in my gut probably need water to live as well.

Intentional choices I make that may influence my microbiota include the vitamins I take, the varied amount of food groups I consume, and a sudden change in diet. Vitamins I take are meant to improve my health, but they could also be absorbed by the microbes in my gut unintentionally to improve, or harm, them. If I eat a varied amount of food groups, for example if I were to cut carbs out of my diet completely, I think this would also have an impact on my gut microbial communities. The bacteria in my gut that help digest carbohydrates so I can use them for energy may die off after not receiving enough, and when I consume carbs again it could be difficult for me to digest them. A sudden change in diet, for example the consumption of lactose by a lactose intolerant person (this doesn’t affect me personally), can have dramatic impact on microbes. Since that person doesn’t produce lactase, microbiota that do will digest the lactose, which can cause a lot of discomfort among other things.

Writing Exercise #4

Rhetorical precis:

(1) LydiaE. Wroblewski, a member of the Division of Gastroenterology and Department of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote of her work entitled “Helicobacter pylori and Gastric Cancer: Factors That Modulate Disease Risk” which explains how H. pylori is tightly correlated to the formation of gastric cancers in infected individuals, and how specific virulence factors including CagA and VacA toxins produced by the bacteria contribute to cancer formation. (2) Wroblewski’s study provides corroboration that virulence factors produced by H. pylori, along with the bacterium’s anatomy and physiology, alter the host gut environment, and over time alter the gut endothelial cell genes to produce cancerous endothelial cells. (3) The purpose of Wroblewski’s work is to better understand the mechanism by which certain H. pylori strains contribute to cancer in order to better prevent gastric endothelial cancer formation since a large portion of the world’s population is infected with the bacteria. (4) Wroblewski’s use of scientific jargon and reliance on the audience’s understanding of biological molecular processes infers an intended audience of microbiological researchers and biologists interested in microbial virulence and potential therapeutic treatment options for H. pylori infected individuals.

Lydia E. Wroblewski, Richard M. Peek Jr., Keith T. Wilson. 2010. Helicobacter pylori and Gastric Cancer: Factors That Modulate Disease Risk. 23(4): 713-739.

Writing Exercise #3

Behaviors the could change the gut microbial community in an individual:

  • Taking antibiotics to treat an infection. This would be potentially detrimental to gut microbes, eliminating them like the bacterial infection that was meant to be fought off with the medication. Also, taking antibiotics when not prescribed to do so, or for an incorrect amount of time could have further affects on an individual’s microbiota.
  • Consuming probiotics. This could be beneficial or detrimental depending on the conditions the individual takes the probiotics. I have always heard that if you are not in need of them, you should never consume probiotics because it could “disrupt your natural flora”. However, a person who is undergoing antibiotics may be encouraged to take probiotics to improve their diminished microbial gut populations.
  • Quality of diet. A person’s nutrition plays a large role in what kinds of microbes their guts harbor. I assume this has a lot to do with the role bacteria have in helping us digest our food. It can be assumed that a healthy diet encourages normal microbiota populations, whereas poor diet disrupts the normal environment for inhabiting microbes. Along with the type of food we consume, the amount also can change our individual microbiota. For example, according to the article “Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ” by Caitriona M. Guinane and Paul D. Cotter on page 295, malnutrition and obesity play a large role in gut microbe diversity.
  • Aging. The human gut microbiota varies hugely across age groups, according to the article cited above. An infant receives its first set of bacteria that become its microbiota through vaginal birth. After this, the microbiota matures and fluctuates over the span of a person’s life. Aging does not necessarily have a beneficial or detrimental affect on microbiota communities, but it has been proven that our gut microorganism populations change over time and adapt to our living conditions.
  • Changing environmental factors. The article noted above brought up a very fascinating piece of data that elderly microbiota differ based off of if the individual lives in a “long-stay care environments” versus in the general community. In this case, living in care facilities alters a person’s microbiota in a way that makes them more frail, making this particular example of environmental factors a detrimental one. This could be beneficial, though. For example, if a person who was malnourished received probiotics and began a normal, healthy diet, their microbiota populations could improve by changing some of their environmental factors.

Writing Exercise #2

Like most other people, going to a doctor’s office to receive a shot is not something I look forward to. This was especially true when I was in the middle of my HPV shots when I was younger. Anyone who has had this series of shots knows that they’re some of the most painful shots you’ll probably ever receive. However, the pain of having the shots in not comparable to the amount of pain you could potentially feel if you were to develop cervical cancer by choosing to not get vaccinated. Vaccinations are extremely an important aspect of modern medicine, and it is vital that vaccines are effective and affordable.

As a healthcare professional, I would recommend that the strains covered in an HPV vaccine include HPV16, HPV18, HPV31, and HPV45 as they are correlated with approximately 80% of cervical cancer cases (1). Furthermore, HPV16 and HPV18 have also been connected to anogenital cancers and some head and neck cancers (1), so by including these strains in a vaccine, cancer types beyond cervical could potentially be prevented as well. Other strains of HPV such as HPV’s 33, 35, 39, 51, 52, 56, 58, and 59 have been associated with cervical cancer, but I feel that the vaccine should include the most high-risk strains that are most often associated with the development of cancer over time.

The vaccine should be administered to young people, before possible exposure to HPV through sexual intercourse, or as soon as possible starting around the age 11 or 12 (2). According to the CDC, HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection spread through sexual contact (2). Along with initial vaccinations, it is necessary that the patient follow up with a booster shot to increase immunity to these high- risk HPV strains.

  1. Sarid R, Gao S-J. 2011. Viruses and Human Cancer: From Detection to Causality. Cancer Lett 218–227.
  2. 2017. Genital HPV Infection – Fact Sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Writing Exercise #1

List of human non-infectious diseases influenced by microorganisms:

  • Lactose intolerance
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

These are the only diseases I can think of, although I am sure there are many more. I’m interested in reading what my peers had to say on their blogs and seeing if our ideas are similar.