Bacteria and Breast Cancer Risk

The word “bacteria” probably doesn’t bring to mind very pleasant images. And to be sure, bacteria is behind many diseases we develop. However, new research indicates that certain bacteria might serve as a bulwark against breast cancer.

Under the Microscope

This report was issued by a team from the renown Cleveland Clinic. For their study, the team extracted tissue samples from women with breast cancer, as well as women without this disease. The samples were then examined for Methylobacterium, a type of bacteria that is also found in soil and water. The team noted that Methylobacterium had a
stronger presence in the tissues taken from the non-cancer group. This finding may have confirmed previous suspicions from medical researchers regarding bacteria-breast cancer connection.

Stopping Breast Cancer in its Tracks?

The journal Oncotarget published this group’s findings in October 2017. Dr. Charis Eng, the study’s senior co-author, expressed hope that his team’s work could eventually enable new medical interventions against breast cancer. “To my knowledge, this is the first study to examine both breast tissue and distant sites of the body for bacterial differences in breast cancer,” stated Eng. “Our hope is to find a biomarker that would help us diagnose breast cancer quickly and easily. In our wildest dreams, we hope we can use microbiomics right before breast cancer forms and then prevent cancer with probiotics or antibiotics.”

Another study co-author, Stephen Grobmyer M.D., offered similar sentiments. “If we can target specific pro-cancer bacteria, we may be able to make the environment less hospitable to cancer and enhance existing treatments. Larger studies are needed but this work is a solid first step in better understanding the significant role of bacterial imbalances in breast cancer.” Overall, the study reviewed tissues from a total of 78 women who underwent surgical procedures related to breast cancer.

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