Epidemiologic studies of the human microbiome and cancer

Br J Cancer. 2016 Feb 2;114(3):237-42. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.465. Epub 2016 Jan 5.


The human microbiome, which includes the collective genome of all bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists, and viruses found in and on the human body, is altered in many diseases and may substantially affect cancer risk. Previously detected associations of individual bacteria (e.g., Helicobacter pylori), periodontal disease, and inflammation with specific cancers have motivated studies considering the association between the human microbiome and cancer risk. This short review summarises microbiome research, focusing on published epidemiological associations with gastric, oesophageal, hepatobiliary, pancreatic, lung, colorectal, and other cancers. Large, prospective studies of the microbiome that employ multidisciplinary laboratory and analysis methods, as well as rigorous validation of case status, are likely to yield translational opportunities to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality by improving prevention, screening, and treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Carrier State / epidemiology
  • Carrier State / microbiology*
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Risk Factors