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Semin Immunol. 2017 Aug;32:35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2017.08.009. Epub 2017 Sep 1.

The intricate connection between diet, microbiota, and cancer: A jigsaw puzzle.

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Institute of Biochemistry II, Goethe University, Frankfurt, 60590, Germany; Institute for Tumor Biology and Experimental Therapy, Georg-Speyer Haus, Frankfurt, 60596, Germany; German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120, Heidelberg, Germany. Electronic address:


The microbial community has a decisive role in determining our health and disease susceptibility. Presumably, this is closely associated with the complex community network of bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses that reside our guts. This dynamic ecosystem exists in a symbiotic relationship with its host and plays a fundamental role in the hosts' physiological functions. The microbial community is highly personalized and therefore exhibits a high degree of inter-individual variability, which is dependent on host specifics such as genetic background, physiology and lifestyle. Although the gut microbiota is shaped early on during birth, there are several factors that affect the composition of microbiota during childhood and adulthood. Among them diet appears to be a consistent and prominent one. The metabolic activity of bacteria affects food digestion, absorption, energy production, and immunity. Thus, definition of the microbiota composition and functional profiles in response to a particular diet may lead to critical information on the direct and indirect role/use of the bacterial community during health and disease. In this review, I discuss gut microbiota and its potential link to cancer with specific emphasis on metabolism and diet.

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