Gut microbial differences in breast and prostate cancer cases from two randomised controlled trials compared to matched cancer-free controls

Academic Article


  • Implicated in several chronic diseases, the gastrointestinal microbiome is hypothesised to influence carcinogenesis. We compared faecal microbiota of newly diagnosed treatment-naïve overweight and obese cancer patients and matched controls. Cases were enrolled in presurgical weight-loss trials for breast (NCT02224807) and prostate (NCT01886677) cancers and had a body mass index (BMI) ≥25 kg/m2. Cancer-free controls were matched 1:1 by age (±5 years), race, gender, and BMI (±5 kg/m2). All participants provided faecal samples; isolated bacterial DNA were PCR amplified at the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene and analysed using the QIIME pipeline. Tests compared cases versus controls, then separately by gender. Microbial alpha-diversity and beta-diversity were assessed, and relative abundance of Operational Taxonomic Units (OTU’s) were compared at the genus level, with false discovery rate (FDR) correction. 22 overweight and obese cancer patients were matched with 22 cancer-free controls, with an average BMI of 30.5±4.3 kg/m2, age 54.4±5.3 years, and 54.5% were black. Fourteen matches were made between breast cancer cases and healthy female controls, and 8 matches were made with prostate cancer cases and healthy male controls. Comparison of all cases and controls revealed no differences in alpha diversity, though prostate cancer patients had higher Chao1 (P=0.006) and Observed Species (P=0.036) than cancer-free males. Beta-diversity metrics were significantly different between cases and controls (P<0.03 for all tests in whole sample and in men), though only unweighted Unifrac was different in women (P=0.005). Kruskal Wallis tests indicated significant differences among 16 genera in all matches, 9 in female, and 51 in male. This study suggests the faecal microbiota of treatment-naive breast and prostate cancer patients differs from controls, though larger samples are needed to substantiate these findings. Trial registration: NIH Clinical Trials, NCT01886677, NCT02224807, registered 26 June 2013, 25 Aug 2014 (respectively) – retrospectively registered.
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    Author List

  • Smith KS; Frugé AD; van der Pol W; Caston NE; Morrow CD; Demark-Wahnefried W; Carson TL
  • Start Page

  • 239
  • End Page

  • 248
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 3