When women consider the steps they’ll take to lessen their risks of breast cancer, protecting the healthy balance of gut bacteria may not be at the top of their to-do lists.
However, women would probably reconsider in a heartbeat if they understood how restoring that balance affected the severity and aggressiveness of breast cancer.
Disruptions of the gut microbiome balance and inflammation may worsen the spread of at least one form of breast cancer severely, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Research.
Disruptions with antibiotics
Hormone receptor-positive breast cancers (ones triggered by estrogen or progesterone) accounts for at least two-thirds of all diagnoses and these forms usually respond well to hormone therapy.
Major problems arise when these cancers metastasize, spreading beyond the breast into other body tissues. High levels of immune cells in those tissues known as macrophages can fuel early metastasis.
Scientists at the University of Virginia led by Dr. Melanie Rutkowski examined how the gut affects the spread of breast cancer by altering the microbiomes of mice. (They fed mice antibiotic “cocktails” for 14 days or plain water before injecting them with mammary cancer cells.)
Spreading breast cancer
No surprise, the microbiomes of mice treated with antibiotics were disrupted, resulting in inflammation systemically and within mammary tissue.
“In this inflamed environment, tumor cells were much more able to disseminate from the tissue into the blood and to the lungs, which is a major site for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer to metastasize,” says Dr. Rutkowski.
Based on these findings, Dr. Rutkowski and her team believe an unhealthy gut and the problems that occur in the body as a result may be early predictors of metastatic or invasive breast cancer.
It’s important to note that the megadoses of antibiotic used to accelerate the long-term imbalances of animal microbiomes wouldn’t happen with patients taking a typical course of antibiotics during a typical cancer treatment, Dr. Rutkowski says.
But, too many patients still rely on antibiotics way too often, even for treating minor health problems that aren’t designed to respond to these drugs.
Gut health affects your entire health!
Your gut affects so many parts of your health that are intricately tied to your immune system, and a lack of gut bacteria diversity harms those efforts.
Although there’s many steps you can take to protect and improve the health of your gut and immune system, taking a probiotic is among the best and easiest choices you can make.
To get the most good out of the probiotic you’re taking, ensure it’s formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria that mirror and enhance the diversity of your gut too.
Formulated to give your immune system a much-needed daily boost, EndoMune Advanced Probiotic contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus families — 30 BILLION bacterial allies — that protect your gut every day.