Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Bacterial Imbalances and Breast Cancer

By: Bruce Cleary
Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017

Cleveland Clinic researchers have reported that bacteria may play a role in breast cancer, publishing their findings in Oncotarget. Cancerous breast tissue may be associated with a microbiomic profile that is different from that of benign breast tissue and that other, more distant body sites may show this difference, too.

“Our hope is to find a biomarker that would help us diagnose breast cancer quickly and easily,” shared co-senior author Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute, in a Cleveland Clinic press release. “In our wildest dreams, we hope we can use microbiomics right before breast cancer forms and then prevent cancer with probiotics or antibiotics.”

The investigators examined the tissues of 57 women with invasive breast cancer who were undergoing mastectomy and 21 healthy women who were undergoing cosmetic breast surgery. Oral rinse and urine samples were also studied to assess the bacterial composition of these distant sites.

Healthy breast tissue contained more Methylobacterium than did breast cancer tissue. In addition, bacterial 16S rRNA gene was amplified in the urine samples of cancer patients, although Dr. Eng and colleagues indicate this finding requires further study in larger cohorts. As for oral rinse samples, no significant differences were observed.

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