Association of breast and gut microbiota dysbiosis and the risk of breast cancer: a case-control clinical study

BMC Cancer. 2019 May 24;19(1):495. doi: 10.1186/s12885-019-5660-y.


Background: Breast cancer ranks first in women, and is the second cause of death in this gender. In addition to genetics, the environment contributes to the development of the disease, although the factors involved are not well known. Among the latter is the influence of microorganisms and, therefore, attention is recently being paid to the mammary microbiota. We hypothesize that the risk of breast cancer could be associated with the composition and functionality of the mammary/gut microbiota, and that exposure to environmental contaminants (endocrine disruptors, EDCs) might contribute to alter these microbiota.

Methods: We describe a case-control clinical study that will be performed in women between 25 and 70 years of age. Cases will be women diagnosed and surgically intervened of breast cancer (stages I and II). Women with antecedents of cancer or advanced tumor stage (metastasis), or who have received antibiotic treatment within a period of 3 months prior to recruitment, or any neoadjuvant therapy, will be excluded. Controls will be women surgically intervened of breast augmentation or reduction. Women with oncological, gynecological or endocrine history, and those who have received antibiotic treatment within a period of 3 months prior to recruitment will also be excluded. Blood, urine, breast tissue and stool samples will be collected. Data regarding anthropometric, sociodemographic, reproductive history, tumor features and dietary habits will be gathered. Metabolomic studies will be carried out in stool and breast tissue samples. Metagenomic studies will also be performed in stool and breast tissue samples to ascertain the viral, fungal, bacterial and archaea populations of the microbiota. Quantitation of estrogens, estrogen metabolites and EDCs in samples of serum, urine and breast tissue will also be performed.

Discussion: This is the first time that the contribution of bacteria, archaea, viruses and fungi together with their alteration by environmental contaminants to the risk of breast cancer will be evaluated in the same study. Results obtained could contribute to elucidate risk factors, improve the prognosis, as well as to propose novel intervention studies in this disease.

Trial registration: NCT03885648 , 03/25/2019. Retrospectively registered.

Keywords: Archaea; Bacteria; Breast cancer; Breast microbiota; Endocrine disruptors; Environmental pollutants; Fungi; Gut microbiota; Virus.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Breast / microbiology*
  • Breast / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood
  • Breast Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / urine
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Damage
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Estrogens / analysis
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Metabolome
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Estrogens

Associated data