Researchers Find Link Between Bacterial Imbalances and Breast Cancer


Source: Cleveland Clinic

Summary: Researchers for the first time found differences in the bacterial composition of the breast tissues in healthy women vs. women with breast cancer.


After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the united states where 1 in 8 women develop the disease in their lifetime. Microbiome (bacteria which live in the human body) influences many diseases. Till now most of the research has been done on the gut microbiome that is bacteria of the digestive tract. There is long suspect that a microbiome also exists within the breast tissue and may also play a role in the breast cancer but not yet characterized. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic for the first time uncovered the bacterial imbalances in the breast tissues of healthy women and women with breast cancer. The research is published in the journal Oncotarget.

Breast Carcinoma

Microbiome (bacteria inside the breast tissue) is linked to breast cancer

Researchers observed that healthy breast tissue have more of the bacterial species Methylobacterium, which may offer a new perspective in the fight against breast cancer. For the study, tissues of 78 patients who underwent mastectomy and cosmetic breast surgery were examined and even their oral rinse and urine samples were also examined to the determine the bacterial composition at distant sites in the body. Researchers are further investigating to develop novel treatments with the help of nanotechnology to deliver antibiotics to the bacterial community in breast cancer.

Co-senior author Charis 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 co-senior author Stephen Grobymer, M.D., said, “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.”


More Information: Hannah Wang et al, “Breast tissue, oral and urinary microbiomes in breast cancer”, Oncotarget (2017). DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.21490


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