4 July 2016

Distinct microbes in breast cancer tissues

Breasts cancer tissues contain different bacterial species than those existing in healthy breasts, concluded a very recent study published online last week.

When I started this blog about bugs and poo, I knew it would take me a bit further than our colon and I would be writing about all sorts of diseases. However, the big surprise is how essential a healthy microbiota to lower the risk of developing cancer!

Cancer is such a bad word, isn't it? We know it's around us, we know it might strike us at any moment, we know and lost people who suffered because of it. Cancer is like a sword above our head, we don't know when it will fall.

I've already talked briefly about the link between cancer and our microbiota. And as research will get published, I will try to make sense of it all. And I'm glad to report I'm not the only one thinking that this may be (one of) the missing link(s) to treat cancer effectively. Recently, the biggest pharma companies have declared that microbiota research will now be an integral part of their cancer research programme, and that is GOOD news - they wouldn't spend millions on something they don't believe in, right?

The present study, an academic non-pharma-funded one, looked at tissues in breasts of healthy women, women with breast cancer, and women with benign tumours.

It's important to note that the tissues collected from malignant or benign breast tumours were not only the tumours themselves but also taken in a region of the breast that would, in all other circumstances, be considered as healthy tissue.

What the scientists realised is that the microbial species found in the different samples were different despite all being healthy tissues. The main results are the following (see figure for summary):
  • The microbial profile of malignant tumours was identical to the microbial profile of benign tumours' and their adjacent tissues
  • The microbial profiles of malignant and benign tumours were different from healthy breast's
  • The microbial profiles of malignant and benign tumours contained less beneficial species such as lactic acid bacteria, which are known for their anti-cancer properties
  • The microbes found in malignant and benign tissues have been shown to have the ability to cause DNA damage (in the lab)

The results
It may be scary to know that even though your tumour is benign, the bacteria around it have the ability to cause cancer by breaking DNA, but the authors of the study do specify that this may not be sufficient in itself to promote breast cancer development unless it occurs in someone who is genetically susceptible to develop cancer and already contains mutations in DNA repair.

I don't know about you, but I find these results almighty important! As I aways say when reading about amazing research like this: 'We're getting there'

Would you like to know more about the link betwen our microbiota and diseases such as cancer?  Do you believe it or do you think it's a fad?
See you next Monday,


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