Could There Be a Link Between Breast Cancer and Bacteria?

Certain bacteria that that survive in the women’s breast tissue are known for affecting women’s health, according to a new Canadian study.

Researchers were able to find that women having breast tumours had bacteria of different mix surviving in the tissue as compared to those women who don’t have tumours, as per the study.

Even though bacteria can be found in abundance in several parts of the women’s body, like vagina, gut, and mouth, there are significantly less number of bacteria found in the breast tissue, according to Gregor Reid from the Western university in Ontario, also the senior author of the study.

The researchers of the study aimed to check if the bacteria had any difference in accord to the tumour present in the breast. About 13 women gave their samples of breast tissue having benign tumours, 45 participants gave samples of cancerous tumours, and 23 participants provided samples with no breast tumours.

Every woman in the study had a plan of undergoing breast surgery, for removing the tumour, or for the purpose of breast reduction or enhancement. A DNA analysis was also performed by the researchers to determine the type of bacteria present in the tissue.

The researchers were able to find that certain types of bacteria were common in women who had tumours as compared to those who did not. Women having tumours were predominated by three different types of bacteria, namely Bacillus, Staphylococcus, and Enterobacteriaceae, with respect to women who didn’t have tumours. E. Coli, a variant of Enterobacteriaceae, was found in the breast of women with tumour cells.

The researchers also performed a laboratory experiment with the help of the bacteria they extracted from the breast tissue. The bacteria were added to breast cells of humans in lab dishes, to verify DNA damage. Researchers mentioned that DNA damage could facilitate cancer development.

The experiment was able to show that two strains of the bacteria had the potential to damage the DNA in the lab at least, as per Reid. Though, conducting the experiments either on animals or humans could provide more concrete results, according to him.

The presence of Streptococcus and Lactococcus bacteria were found in women who did not have tumours. This could possibility indicate that, these bacteria help in breaking cancer-causing compounds.

The Breast Microbiome

The research studies concerning bacteria in the breast and its role in breast cancer is still in the initial stages. Though, some of the earlier studies have shown that bacteria might have a role to play.

Some studies have shown that breast-feeding could lower the risk of having breast cancer. Reid mentioned that consuming probiotics helps in affecting the concentration of breast bacteria. He added that with the help of beneficial bacteria, it may be possible to prevent certain cancer cases. Through the help of research, women having higher concentration of bad bacteria and with an increased risk of having breast cancer could be shown ways of monitoring and changing the bacteria concentration, according to Reid.

The study was published on the 24th of June in a journal named Applied and Environmental Microbiology.