CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - New research from the University of Virginia suggests an unhealthy belly could promote the spread of breast cancer. Researchers found that altering a collection of microorganisms found in the gut had dramatic impacts on the body.

They found it caused hormone receptor-positive breast cancer to become more aggressive and spread.

“This could be applicable to other types of cancers, and so it could be a general diagnostic tool for predicting metastatic disease. If we understand how the gut is contributing to a more invasive cancer, there could be therapies designed to target that,” said Melanie Rutkowski, with UVA's Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology.

Researchers say it's important for people to know that having a healthy lifestyle contributes to having a healthy stomach.