Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bacteria Migrating to Breast May Cause Cancer

—-The other 200 posts—-
The readers of this blog are probably aware of my interest in the causes and related cures of diseases.  Juxtaposition of recent research findings has made me reconsider the role of bacteria in breast cancer.

The Findings
  • Lactation/breastfeeding lowers risk of breast cancer (improves path of normal mammary duct micro biome from nipple.)
  • Tubal ligation lowers risk of ovarian cancer (eliminates path for bacteria from vagina.)
  • Aspirin reduces pancreatic cancer (by reducing inflammation involved in the transition from bacterial infection to cancer.)
  • Pancreatic and breast cancer risks are both dramatically increased by BRCA (tumor suppressor genes involved in 5% of breast cancer.)
  • Bacteria are transported from gut to blood to breast to milk to infants.  (Google entero-mammary bacterial circulation involving intestinal M cells and dendrocytes.)

Bacteria Have Access to Organs with Common Cancers
Serum or fluid flows from organs outward; liver to gall bladder to intestines, pancreas to intestines, prostate to urethra, ovary to fallopian tube to uterus to vagina.  In each case there is also an related infection and inflammation associated with the backward path to the organ.  Urinary tract infections can lead to prostatitis.  Vaginitis can lead to pelvic inflammation, gastritis to stomach cancer, and intestinal infection/inflammation can result in pancreatitis.  The theme seems to be that bacterial infections can cause inflammation that leads to cancer.

Bacterial Path to the Breast
Lactating women occasionally have bacteria that migrate back up milk ducts to cause mastitis, but this is not quite parallel to my other examples of bacterial movement, because women are not continually producing milk.  There is, however, another path of bacteria to mammary tissue.  Prior to birth, bacteria move from the maternal gut, through the blood (presumably in lymphocytes) and into mammary tissue.  Subsequent nursing transports the bacteria to the infant to initiate the milk controlled gut flora unique to exclusively breastfed infants.

Monthly Transport of Bacteria to Breast
The menstrual cycle is an abbreviated ovulation, conception, gestation and birth, which suggests that just as in the normal prelude to lactation, there may also be monthly transport of gut bacteria to mammary tissue.  These bacteria may also cause infection and inflammation, though they may not be sufficient to cause more than transient breast tenderness.

Healthy Gut Flora Means Healthy Breasts
I expect that many diseases in infants may be associated with the wrong bacteria being transported from maternal gut to breast to infant.  Clearly, if the mother suffers from dysbiosis, which is very common, it may be difficult for the correct Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria to be transported to mammary tissue.  Transport of other bacteria may cause problems.  Those problems may be severe as a consequence of menstrual cycles that don’t end in pregnancy, but rather end in infection, inflammation and breast cancer.  It may all come down to gut flora.  The difference between women who develop breast cancer and those that remain healthy may be the health of their gut flora.  Breastfeeding, of course, reduces the risk of breast cancer, as well as improving infant gut flora.  Formula is always a risk factor for infant health, because it attacks normal infant gut flora and promotes inflammation. Since many breast cancers naturally resolve, it may also be the case that a healthy immune system can reverse breast cancer and the health of the immune system is determined by the gut flora.


Tim Steele said...

From: Resistant starch: a promising dietary agent for the prevention/treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer.


Resistant starch represents a diverse range of indigestible starch-based dietary carbohydrates. Resistant starch has been investigated in the past for its effects on bowel health (pH, epithelial thickness, and apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells); reduction in postprandial glycemia; increased insulin sensitivity; and effects on the gut microbiome. This review highlights advances as resistant starch gains clinical relevance as a potential treatment/preventive tool for diseases such as colorectal cancer (CRC) and diabetes.


Recent articles have evaluated the comparative physiological effects of different types of resistant starch and investigated the effects of resistant starch on blood lipids, body weight, and defining resistant starch-induced changes to the micriobiome that may be important in health and disease. The most novel and relevant recent data describe a role for resistant starch in ameliorating inflammation; the use of resistant starch for optimal bowel health and prevention of CRC; and, further, that the systemic effects of resistant starch may be important for the treatment of other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer.


This review describes advances in resistant starch research highlighting the gastrointestinal effects that are now being linked to systemic, whole body effects with clinical relevance. These effects have important implications for overall health and the prevention or amelioration of various chronic diseases."

Abstract-only at the link, I'll email you the pdf...

Raj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


Doesn't sunlight touching any part of the skin start the process to create Vitamin D which then circulates throughout the body? I have not read anywhere that Vitamin D is more or less in the parts of the body exposed or protected from the sun. Do I understand your question correctly?

Raj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Art Ayers said...

My thinking is that steroid hormones such as vitamin D, estrogen, etc. have protein transporters in blood. [Diffusion over any distance longer than a few cells and especially for hydrophobic molecules, is insignificant.]. So vit.D on the surface of tissue will not spread locally, but will be transported globally as soon as it reaches the blood. So mammary tissue in the breast will only see globally circulated vit. D.

Vit.D suppression of inflammation does bring up to issue of suppression of inflammation during menstrual cycles, as needed for implantation and gestation. That suppression in mammary tissue may enhance infection on a monthly cycle.

I didn't take the bacteria/cancer connection seriously until I saw the evidence on gut to breast transport associated with lactation and infant gut flora. Human tissue is far from sterile and it is surprising that surgeons are ignorant of tissues that are loaded with bacteria. There is a substantial literature, even though much has been dismissed. Transport of bacteria to sites of infection/inflammation is established, but has not been related to menstrual cycles or obesity.

Thanks for the comments.

Raj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aubrey Bailey said...

"Bacteria are transported from gut to blood to breast to milk to infants." That is just sooooo bogus. I mean, seriously, can you imagine if that were true? Organized sepsis? No, I don't think so. Plus, are you saying that bacteria are phagocytosed and SURVIVE?!

I require a real citation on that.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Art,

Could you theorize a little more? I can see where infections and possible issues with the baby's digestive tract make sense but getting from bacteria to cancer isn't quite as direct, is it?

Also, if you take antibiotics and suffer no diarrhea, does that mean your gut is still relatively intact and healthy?

Raj said...

Hi Unknown,

There is a difference between being respectful and getting your point across to being an internet troll.

Nature doesn't always operates under rules there are exceptions too. Einstein said light can be bent by gravity no one believed because they thought light was constant in our realm.. nope. Sometime one has to fly before walking.

warm regards

Aubrey Bailey said...

ASKING FOR A CITATION does not constitute trolling. Asking incredulous questions about a very well understood method of vitamin d transport (gc-globulin) in an article that says that whole organisms are being transported is silly, bordering on setting up for some sort of a "vitamin D cures cancer: buy it here" plug.
You cant dismiss a lack of scientific backing as "believing in the unlikely", especially when it comes to medicine. This is exactly how snake oil ends up in the IV bags of cancer patients with desperate families.

garymar said...

"Taken together, our results suggest that intestinally derived bacterial components are transported to the lactating breast within mononuclear cells."

"Lactobacilli present in the maternal gut can cross the intestinal epithelium and reach the mammary gland through an endogenous route, the enteromammary pathway, which is responsible for the abundance of elements of the immunological system in human milk. It has been demonstrated that dendritic cells can penetrate the gut epithelium to take up noninvasive bacteria directly from the gut lumen."

Here's the link:

Lots of references concerning the enteromammary route of bacterial movement.

garymar said...

The first quote I gave above is actually from:

Unknown said...


Could I assume the possible transport of pathogenic yeast (e.g. Candida Albicans) to mammary tissue via intestinal candidiasis. This could lead to thrush in infants.

There are dozens of studies linking Candida yeast to nipple and breast pain during lactation.

The lactoferrin in breast milk would inhibit the yeast to a certain degree but one would think mothers w/ dysbiosis would have decreased lacto/bifido populations leading to a "weak" milk.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Ayers,

How do you tamp down inflammation in the body without using prednisone or other harsh drugs? Can FMT help with inflammation for someone who has gut dysbiosis but no IBD type issues. My DD has so much inflammation in her body that her hands get swollen after painting for a few hours, or her eyes get swollen for days if she cries. The inflammation has caused total hair loss, nothing including gluten free dairy free diet has helped. We have tried GAPS, heavy metal detox, homeopathy, and a bunch of other treatments. Nada. My DD is 14. We would really appreciate some help.

Jin said...


Dr. Art Ayers said...

I clarified BRCA in the post.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I would of course suggest that you read my posts on repairing gut flora.

Since hair loss is sometimes related to attack on hair follicle tissue transglutaminase by anti-tTG antibodies resulting from celiac, as it progresses through Hashimoto's thyroiditis, I think that you could expect problems associated with celiac and Hashimoto's also.

I would expect your daughter to be deficient in vitamin D even if supplementing and sunbathing, unless tests show she is at the high range.

I would expect vitamin deficiencies and thyroid problems.

I outline an Anti-inflammatory diet that is good for everyone. Note the lack of wheat and vegetable oils, and saturated fats are good. Fish oil, in the absence of high omega-6 oils, can reduce inflammation.

I direct you to my posts on resistant starch plus probiotics containing Clostridia and recommend the references there for suggestions to repair suppressive immune system via gut flora repair.

I would not expect any of the treatments to have any impact, because she has severe gut dysbiosis. You didn't mention any of the symptoms related to fixing damaged gut flora, e.g. constipation, food intolerances, so I suspect that you didn't try to repair dysbiosis, which is needed for diet changes to have an impact.

The rest of the family is probably contributing to her problems, because they also have gut flora issues and too much hygiene. She needs a dirty dog and gardening lessons.

Let me know how it goes.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Thanks for doing my job on citations better than I do. I just try to take the shortest path to providing what I think may be new insights and to point out how the current paradigm may be leading us astray. I have left behind the need to support each step with documented observations, especially with the biomedical literature so corrupted by special interests. As a consequence I just try to make sense of key observations that are reasonable and then query the literature for corroboration. That leaves me with a string of bread crumbs as I rapidly traverse the literature. Thankfully, there are people around who can provide documentation where I just provide the explanation outline.

garymar said...

Dr Ayers, you’re quite welcome. Blog posts are not peer-reviewed literature, and interested readers should be willing to perform a minimum of due diligence on their own.

The effort really is minimal. I just pasted your section title “Bacterial Path to the Breast” into Google and in only a couple of minutes found abundant evidence for the enteromammary path.

Anonymous said...

Dr Ayers,
I have read your Anti-Inflammatory diet and given it a try. We did GFCF for almost 2 years with no results, and bone broth every day. We did GAPS for 3 months and it was the hardest thing for her - she decided that she would rather not have hair than not be able to enjoy her food or go out with her friends, and be a regular kid. We eat pretty healthy with lots of vegetables and fruits and organic meats, but it has not made a dent. She has taken fish oil for 2 years. She may have a hidden food allergy, that's not apparent. She hardly gets sick, and does very well in school. Over the last 4 years, based on my observation, it does not matter what she eats - she has lost hair when she eats totally clean (GFCF) and grew some hair when she eats regular. It was very frustrating. We are doing 10 days of FMT to see if it will help repair her gut. The inflammation is just the most confounding. You're right about people around her - I have Hashi and had taken tons of ABX before I had her. I think she has yeast, maybe even candida although the stool tests did not find any recently (she had yeast previously). Do you think she has some biofilms that we need to attack first? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My DD lost her hair after getting the H1N1 vaccine. She has been thoroughly tested for celiac and thyroid issues, and she does not have either.


Marijke said...

Dear Anonymus,

If you followed the GAPS program for three months with your daughter, you cannot expect to have any significant results. You need at least two years and more in difficult cases. You need to be strict and avoid all sources of sugar including starch. I had great success with GAPS after three years.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Anon and Marijke,

Is the DD still deficient in vit.D, by serum measurement, and constipated?

With severe dysbiosis, as in this case, the gut and immune system have been significantly restructured. Just changing the diet in any way, will not be a cure, because the primary target is repair of the gut flora. The GAPS diet just eliminates soluble fiber and other alternative nutrients for the gut flora and starves out all of the gut microorganisms, including perhaps SIBO and yeast. Then it recolonizes temporarily wth dairy probiotics and a couple of other random strains of soil bacteria. This may actually mimic the dairy probiotics of breastfed infants, but probably has a high failure rate. The use of digestive enzymes and cleansing is dubious and direct stomach acidification with betaine HCl is silly. So in my opinion, the GAPS program may occasionally work, because some people coincidentally are exposed to new gut flora over time, but it is based on false premises.

Please note the essential distinction between starch and RESISTANT starch. GAPS does not understand the difference, because it does not understand the relationship between gut flora and immune system development and focuses on misconceptions of probiotics, digestive supplements and retained toxins requiring cleansing.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ayers,
DD is not deficient in Vit D and is not constipated. Do you think the fecal transplant would help reset the gut flora?
I've been giving her 1 tsp of potato starch daily with her breakfast smoothie for about 3 months. How much RS should she have daily? If she doesn't have the right bacteria, or if her good bacteria is wiped out, how would RS help?
Isn't inflammation a reaction to some infection? Her ASO titer is very high but yet does not have strep.


navillus said...

Dr. Ayers, what is your take on Melatonin and breast cancer?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I don't find much about melatonin and breast cancer. I doubt it has much impact either way.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I guess I was just speaking from ignorance about melatonin. There was an article last week in Cancer Research that showed that interrupted night cycles in rats makes transplanted human breast cancer tamoxifen resistant and more rapidly growing. Melatonin addition had the opposite effects. Initiation and progression of cancers respond to different cues, but getting a good night's sleep in darkness seems wise for everyone. Melatonin supplements taken before bedtime may prove to reduce cancer. Using light producing gadgets during the 8 hour sleep period may be very dangerous to health.

Thanks for the heads up. Now all I have to do is conceptualize the additional molecular signals after putting cancer into the grand scheme of things.

Marybeth said...

Dr. Ayers,
Thanks for reporting back (I had seen the article and heard it on NPR so I then decided to see what your take was on it). After reading pub med, with my limited scientific comprehension, I have decided to start taking melatonin in the lowest dosage of 3mg. Upon reading more on breast cancer, pub med mentioned cabbage juice from juicing or sauerkraut and DIM.

I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ stage 0 with other various areas of micro calcifications in January 2014. If I had a crystal ball to let me know if it wouldn't turn into invasive cancer I would have left it alone. I took a route to avoid radiation and tamoxifen. My sleep pattern has me waking up a couple of times during the night. And not due to light. My vitamin D level is 80+, I do fermented vegetables (love the sauerkraut I make) and have been doing RS since January 2014. And no processed food and my sugar intake is from a little fruit,85% dark chocolate and a bit of alcohol limited to Thursday through Saturday. By no means do I make up for the other days that are skipped!😁

Sometimes I get so confused by reading all the material out there as some is counter indicative. Or which supplement will help the most instead of trying to take them all. That would surely bankrupt me!

I enjoy your post and have been for many years!


Dr. Art Ayers said...

I think that you are on the right track. You seem to have recognized most of your risk factors and minimized them. You just end up with a little wakefulness and the melatonin should even help that. I would just recommend enjoying your good health with exercise and perhaps indulging in some stress reducing yoga, e.g. Svaroopa.

I am perplexed by the touted benefits of supplements and admit to the guilty pleasure of laughing at Dr. Oz and his super foods. (My wife has to leave the room.) Melatonin is among the few that make sense.

I think that a wider variety of fermented foods with salt adjustments to permit the growth of bacteria that can digest more of the soluble fiber, will be a future source of therapeutic foods. This has been inadequately studied, so I can't make any recommendations.

Let me know about your progress.

Marybeth said...

Dr. Ayers,
Yes to exercise! That I do and will go back to yoga in a few weeks. Kvass is also in my fermented life and I made some kale kimchi but find it very sour. But I will eat it eventually😉.

Dr. Oz, what a tool! Do you watch him for comedy relief? I think I can count the number of times on one hand that I have seen his show.

I will order my melatonin and report back as to how it has helped or not.

Once again thanks for listening to me.

Vadim said...

According to Cancer Research UK, a cell needs to have a number of mistakes in its genetic code before it becomes cancerous. Between 45 and 90 out of every 100 women carrying BRCA genes will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. Lifetime risk can be quite difficult to understand. 1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. In men, breast cancer is very rare. The same treatments are used for breast cancer in men as for women. As with women, the single biggest risk factor for male breast cancer is getting older. Most cases are diagnosed in men between the ages of 60 and 70. There are significant differences between male and female breast cancer: almost half of male breast cancer patients are stage III or IV. Iron is essential for an array of key biological processes including erythrocyte production, DNA synthesis and cellular respiration. Women are not able to store iron as efficiently as men. Iron deficiency anemia can cause headaches, moodiness, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, paleness and shortness of breath. Paradoxically, but iron deficiency (a condition resulting from too little iron in the body) can neutralize pre-cancerous cells. What is breast cancer? Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in iron-overloaded cells of the breast. Breast cancer is a complex disease with both genetic and non-genetic risk factors. All breast cancers are caused by iron-related genes (genes directly/indirectly involved in iron metabolism) and iron-related events (when excessive iron accumulates within the cells due to carcinogenic lifestyle events). Breast tumor is usually, but not always, primarily classified by its histological appearance. Researchers are studying how molecular subtypes of breast cancer may be useful in planning treatment and developing new therapies. Different types of breast tumor may need one type of treatment. The best treatment for local iron overload (breast tumor) is the direct intratumoral injection of iron-deficiency agents. Metastatic, or stage 4, breast cancer means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Iron-deficiency anticancer drugs and methods will beat metastatic breast cancers.

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