In a series of experiments, scientists at the University of Virginia Cancer Centre found a link between our gut bacteria and the spread of breast cancer. To mimic an unhealthy microbiome in humans, they gave a group of mice a dose of antibiotics. This triggered an inflammatory response that promoted hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells to spread to the blood and lungs.
Considering around 70 per cent of breast cancers are fuelled by hormones, these findings may help researchers to understand potential contributors of the disease – and what causes metastasis.
“These findings suggest that having an unhealthy microbiome, and the changes that occur within the tissue that are related to an unhealthy microbiome, may be early predictors of invasive or metastatic breast cancer,” Dr Melanie Rutkowsi, from the university’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology explained in a statement.
She also noted that the study shouldn’t deter people from using antibiotics. Rather, it simply stresses the need to prioritise having a healthy gut - whether you’re battling breast cancer or not. Here’s a few probiotic foods that might help: