I can't say I've ever given my intestinal lining much thought, but it turns out that it may have an incredibly strong link to protecting you from a number of diseases — not the least of which is cancer. It functions as a barrier to keep that which is meant to remain in your gut from spreading through the rest of your body, and now researchers may have identified a way of keeping it up to scratch.

Intestinal hyperpermeability — or, having an intestine that leaks inside your body — has been linked to a number of rather nasty diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, allergies, and asthma, but this study was mostly concerned with cancer and the hormone receptor guanylyl cyclase C (GC-C). GC-C is a known tumor suppressant found in the intestine, and the researchers found it has a key role in sustaining that crucial lining.

Mice lacking the receptor had increased intestinal hyperpermeability, and once it was silenced they suffered systematic DNA damage, leading to tumors forming on their livers, lungs, and lymph nodes. Conversely, activating GC-C improved the barrier integrity.

If this research pans out in humans, it means that hormone treatment might be able to fight not only some types of cancer, but also potentially diseases like Crohn's, or even certain types of skin conditions. Curiously, there's even a GC-C drug in the works, though it's designed for treating constipation.

One thing to be careful of here, is that while there's some very real research into intestinal hyperpermeability like this, it also borders closely on "leaky gut syndrome", a poorly defined disease that's discussed heavily in the alternative medicine fields, and can be used to as a blame for just about any other disease under the sun.