Do gut bacteria rule our minds?

Gut Bacteria

It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us — which outnumber our own cells about 100-fold — may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity.

In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

Bacterial species vary in the nutrients they need. Some prefer fat, and others sugar, for instance. But they not only vie with each other for food and to retain a niche within their ecosystem — our digestive tracts — they also often have different aims than we do when it comes to our own actions

Read more about the manipulative bacteria in our gut

Researchers and Community advocates take on breast cancer together

“Nail salon workers routinely handle products containing many potentially harmful compounds, some of which are carcinogens or have endocrine disrupting effects, yet are virtually unregulated,” said Thu Quach, a research scientist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California in Fremont. “Many of these women work in small shops with poor ventilation for up to 12 hours a day.”

Quach heads an ongoing study, funded by the UC’s California Breast Cancer Research Program to understand possible links between Vietnamese nail salon workers’ exposure to chemicals and health risks, including breast cancer. A widespread misunderstanding is that only women who have cancer in their family tree are at risk. Quach’s research is one of many projects the program funds that are looking at environmental causes of breast cancer and why some ethnic groups are more affected by the disease.

“Our goal is to focus on closing the critical gaps in the breast cancer research field,” said Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch, CBCRP’s director. “One way we’ve accomplished this is by making sure that our research is guided by the knowledge and experience of the people who deal with breast cancer firsthand. We provide opportunities for community members and researchers to partner together to answer their urgent questions in a scientifically rigorous way.”

Over the past 20 years it has partnered with 50 community groups on research priorities and efforts to educate high-risk women on ways to reduce breast cancer risk.