New research from the University of Virginia Cancer Center suggests that inflamed and unhealthy bowels cause breast cancer to become much more invasive and spread more quickly to other parts of the body.

Melanie Rutkowski, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology of UVA, discovered that the disruption of the mice’s microbiome made breast cancer with positive hormone receptors become more aggressive. The alteration of the microbiome, the collection of microorganisms that live in the intestine and elsewhere, had dramatic effects on the body, which stimulated the spread of cancer.

Thanks in part to Rutkowski’s research, doctors will eventually be able to manipulate the microbiome to benefit breast cancer patients. But the key message for now, said Rutkowski, is the importance of a healthy microbiome. The finding adds to growing evidence that a healthy microbiome is vital to many aspects of good health.

More information: Eurekalert