Diet Can Alter Microbiome to Affect Breast Cancer Risk

New research, published online in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, shows that diet, including adding fish oil supplements, can alter not only the breast microbiomethe collection of microorganisms that live in a particular environment in the body - but also breast cancer tumors.

To gain a better understanding of the relationship between the microbiome, diet and cancer risk, researchers undertook a multiprong approach to study both animal models and breast cancer patients. After first studying mice, researchers conducted a doubleblind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with breast cancer patients. Patients either received placebo or fish oil supplements for approximately two to four weeks before lumpectomy or mastectomy.

Results showed that fish oil supplementation significantly modified the breast microbiome in both noncancerous and malignant breast tissue.

“This study provides additional evidence that diet plays a critical role in shaping the gut and breast microbiomes,” Katherine L. Cook, PhD, associate professor of hypertension and cancer biology at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “Ultimately, our study highlights that potential dietary interventions might reduce breast cancer risk.”