Reflecting on the microbiome during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As you watched the future Hall of Fame quarterback Eli Manning over the past two weeks, you probably noticed NFL players wearing pink for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Before this month comes to a close we want to bring your attention to one of our previous posts about the microbiome and breast cancer.  The study showed that post-menopausal women who had a more diverse gut microbiome had a lower risk of getting breast cancer. You can read more about it here.  

We also want to take this time to encourage natural breast feeding, whenever possible, for all new mothers.  A new review article published in Nature Pediatric Research describes the importance of breast milk in creating a healthy infant microbiome.  Breast milk is a complex food that contains bacteria and also supports the growth of bacteria.  The review highlights that when compared to formula, breast feeding leads to more infant gut colonization of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Clostridia, and these bacterial strains are linked to the development of a healthy gut and a healthy immune system.  In addition, breast milk leads to a lower infant gut pH, compared to formula, and infant gut pH affects further species colonization.  Breast milk has evolved to support both us and our microbiomes, and no simple formula can substitute for the real thing.  

Every week there are new studies connecting the microbiome to public health and disease areas that may not seem as obvious as others. We know that the microbiome influences diseases and conditions like obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), but we are now learning that the microbiome is also connected to diseases and conditions like breast cancer, alcoholism, autism, and depression. While it is important to keep our excitement about the microbiome in check, the AMI is building new resources for the microbiome field because we believe our impact can be vast.  Advancing the field of research as a whole can influence the development of new treatments and therapies for a wide range of diseases. 

Please email for any comments, news, or ideas for new blog posts.

The views expressed in the blog are solely those of the author of the blog and not necessarily the American Microbiome Institute or any of our scientists, sponsors, donors, or affiliates.