Diet, Microbes, and Cancer Across the Tree of Life: a Systematic Review

Stefania E. Kapsetaki, Gissel Marquez Alcaraz, Carlo C. Maley, Corrie M. Whisner, Athena Aktipis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Cancers are a leading cause of death in humans and for many other species. Diet has often been associated with cancers, and the microbiome is an essential mediator between diet and cancers. Here, we review the work on cancer and the microbiome across species to search for broad patterns of susceptibility associated with different microbial species. Recent Findings: Some microbes, such as Helicobacter bacteria, papillomaviruses, and the carnivore-associated Fusobacteria, consistently induce tumorigenesis in humans and other species. Other microbes, such as the milk-associated Lactobacillus, consistently inhibit tumorigenesis in humans and other species. Summary: We systematically reviewed over a thousand published articles and identified links between diet, microbes, and cancers in several species of mammals, birds, and flies. Future work should examine a larger variety of host species to discover new model organisms for human preclinical trials, to better understand the observed variance in cancer prevalence across species, and to discover which microbes and diets are associated with cancers across species. Ultimately, this could help identify microbial and dietary interventions to diagnose, prevent, and treat cancers in humans as well as other animals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-525
Number of pages18
JournalCurrent Nutrition Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Comparative oncology
  • Microbiome
  • Nutrition
  • Oncobiome
  • Probiotic
  • Tumour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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