Friend or Foe? Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut Could Help Prevent Breast Cancer
Yesterday, I shared some fascinating new information about antibiotics and other beneficial chemicals produced by your body’s own friendly bacteria. Today, the amazing story of our bacterial passengers continues unfolding. Would you believe scientists think that having a more diverse community of gut bacteria could mean a lower risk of breast cancer? It’s true.
New evidence suggests that having a more diverse gut microbiome—the community of many different species of friendly bacteria living in the gut—could influence the ratio of estrogen metabolites circulating in the bloodstream. That’s important, because certain metabolites are suspected of increasing the risk of breast cancer and other hormone-driven cancers.
“In women who had more diverse communities of gut bacteria, higher levels of estrogen fragments were left after the body metabolized the hormone, compared to women with less diverse intestinal bacteria,” said one of the study's authors, James Goedert, MD, of the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD. “This pattern suggests that these women may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.”
Eating a plant-based diet, rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy is linked to a more diverse gut microbiome. Thus, eating a healthful diet may help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by improving your estrogen metabolite ratios.
Barbara J. Fuhrman, Heather Spencer Feigelson, Roberto Flores, Mitchell H. Gail, Xia Xu, Jacques Ravel, and James J. Goedert. Associations of the Fecal Microbiome With Urinary Estrogens and Estrogen Metabolites in Postmenopausal Women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2014 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2014-2222