Antibiotics are a double-edged sword. They can quickly stop a dangerous infection but destroy your gut microbiome. They can promote cancer cell death but can also increase the risk of breast cancer. I could write a hundred more juxtaposition examples, but you get the point: be SMART and STRATEGIC when taking antibiotics. To garner a bit of insight, please continue reading. For a more personalized approach to antibiotics, please talk to a Breast Cancer Conqueror Coach and your medical team. There is no need to fear antibiotics; however must use caution and use them sparingly and wisely.
Let’s start from the beginning. Do you know if your parents gave you antibiotics for every ailment as a kid? Do you take antibiotics regularly as an adult? We are fortunate to live in a time when we can take antibiotics to treat a very severe infection instead of having to amputate a limb to save our lives. However, many kids and adults now suffer from overuse and abuse of antibiotics and thus antibiotic resistance.
Overuse and Breast Cancer
Overuse leads to antimicrobial resistance, meaning your body is so used to antibiotics that they are no longer effective. It can also immensely damage your gut microbiome, which dramatically weakens your immune system.
The most extensive study to make the correlation between antibiotics and cancer is one conducted with over 2,000 women. It found, “Use of antibiotics is associated with increased risk of incident and fatal breast cancer.” This is because long-term use of antibiotics has bleak effects on inflammation, immune function, and estrogen metabolism.
Another study states, “An unhealthy, inflamed gut causes breast cancer to become much more invasive and spread more quickly to other parts of the body.” If going through chemotherapy, a healthy gut can temper chemotherapy side effects, “Naturally occurring gut bacteria can clean up chemo toxins in the body.” (Learn more here).
Antibiotic Overuse Solutions For Breast Cancer Healing
If you are a person who has overused antibiotics, today is your day to reverse negative side effects. Start by learning more about gut health and breast cancer via this blog post. The blog also talks about gut health tests so you can know your exact situation and make informed treatment choices. Next, you should take a high-quality probiotic (check out Probiotic Support – 15B and GI Support) to restore your gut microflora. I also suggest eating fermented foods as they are packed with probiotics and prebiotics. Here are a few of my favorite recipes:
If you are dealing with SIBO and other gut health issues, please listen to this podcast episode on healing SIBO with Shivan Sarna.
How Antibiotics Benefit Breast Cancer Healing
Antibiotics can be an effective form of cancer treatment when used strategically and for the correct purpose. Below are a few examples, but please do not take antibiotics until you get clearance from your doctor.
- Metastasis: In 2022, The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) discovered certain modifications in mitochondrial RNA are culprits behind cancer metastasis. Their treatment, which includes antibiotics, has reduced metastases in mice. Please note that this research is still in progress as it has only been tested on mice, and you can read the article here.
- TNBC: “Scientists from the University of Geneva and the University of Lausanne have leveraged the effect of the anti-leprotic drug clofazimine (an antibiotic) as an effective agonist of Wnt signaling, the core cellular mechanism that drives many cancers, including TNBC.” This study is still in progress, but it demonstrates how future medicine can target a particular portion rather than the pathway as a whole. If interested, please read the full article from Feb. 2020 here.
Questions for your doctor
If you are considering taking antibiotics as part of your healing plan, below are a few questions to ask your doctor:
- What antibiotics are currently used to treat my specific type and stage of cancer?
- What studies have you reviewed to determine if this treatment type is viable?
- What side effects should I expect? Do the positive outcomes outweigh the negative side effects?
- Will any drugs or supplements I am currently taking negatively interact with antibiotics?
A few types of antibiotics are currently available for anticancer treatment. Doxorubicin is a popular one for breast cancer. The brand names are Lipodox and Doxil. Doxorubicin works by damaging cell DNA, killing off cancer cells, and blocking the enzymes needed for cancer cell repair and division. It is part of a class of chemotherapy drugs (anthracyclines).
How Antibiotics Are Detrimental To Breast Cancer Healing
As you have heard me say a million times, “80% of your immune system lives in your gut!” Therefore, anything that damages your gut microbiome can have devastating consequences on your body’s ability to fight illness and diseases like breast cancer. Countless studies have proven that antibiotics can destroy the health of your gut and immune system. Take a peek at these recent studies, and then feel free to go on a deep dive after you read this blog post.
- Antibiotics as Major Disruptors of Gut Microbiota
- Impact of antibiotics on the human microbiome and consequences for host health
- Unraveling the collateral damage of antibiotics on gut bacteria
- Acute and persistent effects of commonly used antibiotics on the gut microbiome and resistome in healthy adults
In April of this year (2023), Stanford Medicine wrote about a study that stated, “Triple-negative breast cancer patients who used antibiotics within three years of diagnosis have an increased risk of death. The gut microbiome is a likely link.” It went on to reveal, “The effect on survival was not due to differences in cancer severity. The risk increased substantially with the total number and types of antibiotics prescribed for each patient.”
“The researchers believe the link between antimicrobials and lymphocyte numbers lies in the gut. It’s well established that antibiotic treatment, as well as chemotherapy, can be especially harsh on the bacteria that carpet our intestines — a population of tiny helpers known as the gut microbiome. These bacteria not only help us digest food but also affect many aspects of our health, including how our immune systems respond to emerging threats like infection or cancers.”
I would also like to note and fully agree with the below statement by Julia Ransohoff, MD, a fellow in hematology and medical oncology at the Stanford School of Medicine. “It is important to interpret these findings with caution, however. We can’t let life-threatening infections go untreated. But this study suggests that we consider how best to treat them without raising the risk of cancer recurrence.” To read the full article, please click here.
How To Survive & Thrive!
Yes, chemotherapy can be a vital part of many breast cancer healing plans. However, if you are not intentional about keeping your gut microbiome strong and immune system extremely strong, then the toxins from the chemotherapy can cause immense harm.
This is one of the reasons why I created the How to Survive & Thrive: Conquering Breast Cancer with Conventional Treatments and Natural Medicine online course. You will learn from many of the leading integrative breast cancer doctors in the world about using the BEST of traditional medicine and natural healing for OPTIMAL results! While your doctor will give you a vital treatment plan, this course will provide you with a critical healing plan. Please click here to learn more!
You are blessed to live in an age of CHOICES! You don’t have to go with the first treatment plan a doctor tells you to do. Do your research, and be confident and comfortable with your decisions. Your family at Breast Cancer Conqueror is here to support and cheer you on every step of the way!
Author: Dr. Veronique Desaulniers, better known as Dr. V, is a Doctor of Chiropractic & has 44 years of experience in the wellness industry. For personalized support, please partner with a trained Breast Cancer Conqueror Coach.