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Breast microbiome may be a cause of cancer

Unfortunately, breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women in the UK and although there are many risk factors associated with the disease (age, family history, lack of exercise, poor diet, weight, alcohol consumption and radiation exposure), very little is known about the underlying cause of the disease.

Previous studies have found that gut microbes may play a role in the development of breast cancer as these microbes regulate oestrogen levels, the primary female sex hormone. However, less attention has been paid to the bacteria that resides in the breast tissue until now.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute in Ohio have recently investigated the breast tissue, oral bacteria and urine of 78 women, 57 who had suffered from breast cancer and 21 healthy participants.

In the study published in the journal Oncotarget [1] the breast tissue of healthy participants was found to have more Methylobacterium compared to women with breast cancer.  There was also more Staphylococcus and Actinomyces in the urine of those with breast cancer.

This research suggests that some bacteria found in the body prevents the development of cancer meanwhile others promote it and by promoting healthy bacteria growth in the body may help contribute to the future of cancer prevention.

Scientists also hope that by testing for the presence of this bacteria may allow us to detect the disease earlier and more efficiently.

[1] http://www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/index.php?journal=oncotarget&page=article&op=view&path%5B%5D=21490&path%5B%5D=68289