Another surprising development also reaches back into the past. There is renewed interest in the hypothesis first proposed several decades ago that antibiotic use is related to the incidence of breast cancer. Some recent research studies have linked the use of antibiotics with an increased risk. Those woman who chronically use antibiotics seem to be at elevated risk. The exact reasons are not well understood and some of the data is conflicting.
However, it is known that the use of antibiotics changes the intestinal microflora and influences the production of estrogen, various metabolic products, and some inflammatory compounds or toxins that might relate to breast cancer. Although the causal relationship is not clear, these finding reinforce the need for prudent long-term use of antibiotics.
With all these discoveries, there is good news. We live in an era of unprecedented scientific progress. In that process, we are finding that some old ideas are again new. Yet, some findings are now certain. Many cancers are due to pathogens. No body tissue is necessarily sterile. Breast cancer, among many other diseases, must now be reconsidered in light of these new realities in the on going search for improved diagnostic alternatives and treatments.
So then, what should a woman do?
First and foremost, get appropriately screened. Follow the current guidelines since they are based on the very best available evidence.
Secondly, use antibiotics only if you really need them.
And lastly, pay heed to those aspects of your life in which you can actually exert personal control that are known to promote a robust immune system. What might these be? Perhaps this is the biggest surprise. It seems that after all, grandma knew best. What would she have advised about your health? She would tell you to get a good nights sleep, every night, eat a varied diet, drink in moderation, don’t smoke, and get a little bit of exercise every day. Contemporary research underscores that each of these directly affects the immune system and maintains its optimum balance.
By William B. Miller, Jr., M.D.
Dr. Bill Miller has been a physician in academic and private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome. He currently serves as a scientific advisor to OmniBiome Therapeutics, a pioneering company in discovering and developing solutions to problems in human fertility and health through management of the human microbiome. For more information, www.themicrocosmwithin.com.