Dr. Gregory Reid, the director of Canadian Centre For Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research Lawson Health Research Institute, published a study that reports the presence of a particular type of bacteria could prevent breast cancer.

The researching team collected tissue from women with breast cancer, others who don’t have the disease, and others who had gone through aesthetic surgery to enhance or reduce the size of its breast. Based on the results of the study, the researchers say that healthy women have a different type of bacteria in their systems than those who were diagnosed with mammary cancer.

Reid's study was published online by American Society for microbiology. The research could turn out benefitial for women as it could prevent breast cancer. Image Credit: Huffington Post
Reid’s study was published online by American Society for microbiology. The research could turn out benefitial for women as it could prevent breast cancer. Image Credit: Huffington Post

In the past, specialists considered that the tissue at women’s breast was sterile. In other words, they believed that there was no bacteria in it. However, numerous studies spawning from the early 2010s until this year have proven that bacteria is present not only in the nipples, but in the milk produced by women as a result of pregnancy.

Based on this premise, Reid’s team wanted to know if there was a difference in the kind of bacteria a women with cancer has in comparison with healthy individuals. To do so, Camilla Irbaniak, one of the doctor’s PhD students, managed to get breast tissue from 58 who were being tested for tumors. She also managed to get the samples from 23 healthy women that had gone through aesthetic surgery to enhance or reduce their breast’s size.

 Probiotics could be used in cancer prevention therapies

After analyzing all the samples, Doctor Reid’s team determined that women with breast cancer presented high concentrations of specific bacteria, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Both of them associated to tumor development due to a faulty body repair mechanism. In contrast, healthy women’s samples reported Lactobacillus and Streptococcus which are also called good bacteria known for promoting good health. This results are part of a group of studies that could really help doctors treat women with high risks of getting mammary tumors.

A previous study had shown that women who had been pregnant in the past were less likely to develop the problem. This led the researchers of that cohort to study the bacteria existing within the maternal milk. Ultimately getting to the conclusion that these micro-organism could potentially reduce the risks of getting breast cancer. Yet, there is more.

A group of specialists in Spain determined that pregnancy was not necessary for the beneficial bacteria to reach the breasts. They studied a group of women who started consuming probiotics and the specialists realized that after some time, the micro-organisms were present in the breast tissue samples.

All of this progress could not be possible without the help of the guys at NASA. Yes, the space agency worked closely with a research group from medical centers in California to develop a new method that would doctors identify the presence of bacteria, and NASA recurred to one of its own safety protocols. Going to space is a great feat, collecting samples from it is the dream of many scientists, but the risk of alien contamination is always present. Even a single particle could hitchhike its way back to Earth and cause mayhem. That is why the federal agency developed a process to determine with 100% accuracy if bacteria is present in a sample.

There are a lot of conducts in a woman’s nipple that allow her to give milk to her baby. Doctors realized that these conducts also excrete a fluid they named “nipple aspirate fluid” (NAF), and the guys at NASA in cooperation with a team led by Dr. Susan Love used the space agency’s “inspection protocol” on this fluid. Consequently, they managed to see every single living organism in the fluid.

All in all, the results obtained from different studies seem to indicate that the presence of certain bacteria in a woman’s organism plays a huge role on the risks of developing breast tumors. Dr. Reid and his team hope prevention treatments will be improved by including the new findings.

Source: ASM