A new study published by Cleveland Clinic researchers has discovered a connection between the bacterial profiles found among women having been diagnosed with breast cancer. Researchers found that women suffering from breast cancer have lower numbers of bacteria known as Methylobacterium [2]While this initial awareness makes no advice for therapeutic action, it paints a promising picture for better understanding the disease that affects nearly 12% of women [1].

The Microbiome

The human body harbors many different bacteria, many of which are still unknown. Many of these species are regarded as beneficial, while many others are regarded as potentially harmful. Collectively, these bacteria are known as the human Microbiome. Modern science has been slowly piecing together the interrelationship between such bacteria and health concerns. Much is still to be learned, but connections between variances in the microbiome have been made to nearly every major disease. The primary area of focus within this field has been on bacterial communities found within the human digestive tract, fondly called ‘gut bacteria.’ Researchers have long suspected that microbiome variances play a role in the development of breast cancer, though little hard evidence has been produced before now. This newest study takes a bold step towards better understanding how bacteria affect other aspects of human health—not just digestive health.

Methylobacteria Cladogram Results

Cladogram display of the results from this study. The purple spike on the left describes the large presence of Methylobacterium species among non-Cancer patients.

About the Study

The results from this study were published in the journal Oncotarget on October 5th, 2017 and examined the tissues of 78 patients having undergone mastectomy as a response to either invasive breast cancer, or as an elective breast surgery. In addition to the tissue examination, these patients also had their oral and urinary bacteria analyzed to provide a better holistic view of bacterial composition. In addition to discovering the higher presence of Methylobacterium, researchers also noted that among those suffering from cancer—there were higher amounts of such species as Staphylococcus (Staph).

Looking Forward

This research provides a potent ‘proof of principle’ in the search for understanding the bacterial genera associated with breast cancer. Researchers have expressed plans to investigate the use of nanotechnology to deliver targeted bacterial treatments to cancer tissues. This work has been funded by a Grant from the Center for Transformational Nanomedicine, and will be a collaborative effort with researchers from Hebrew University. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, second only to skin cancer, and is thought to affect nearly 1 in 8 women among the US population [1]. Better understanding the relationship between bacterial species and the progression of such disease has a very high possibility of impacting millions of lives around the world.

Probiotics & Gut Health

Research has been surmounting illuminating the impact of bacteria on health. Many of the most dramatic discoveries have taken place among animal species, such as the understanding that gut bacteria can actually change the shape and structure of brain tissue among mice. More specific to human health however, other species such as Lactobacillus Rhamnosus have shown tremendous positive impact on gut health as well as mental health. This particular species has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of conditions such as ADHD, indicating that a clear connection between the gut and brain is likely to exist. These types of bacteria are commonly referred to as ‘Probiotics’ and are often taken in supplement form. If you are interested in learning more about probiotics, which brands produce the best products, as well as where to buy from—check out this article we wrote recently with some help from Klaire Labs.

Final Considerations

It’s important to realize that everyone is different, and the probiotics that help some may be harmful to others. New research such as this catalyzes strong motivation to start throwing supplements regarded as healthy at oneself to avoid future disease. This is a lot like throwing darts in a dark room—and can lead to some unfortunate accidents! The best way to understand how probiotics or certain bacteria may be affecting your health is to work directly with a licensed professional that can help you understand your unique balance. There are certain third party services that are now offering affordable bacterial analysis, with the most notable being uBiome.  They have a Citizen Scientist package available for $89 that can be used to easily provide insight into your gut bacteria composition. In our experience, the data they provide is comprehensive, easily gathered, and very affordable. Science is slowly understanding the role that bacteria plays in our lives, and having as much insight into your own bacterial composition can help to apply new insights to your health.

References

  1. “U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” Breastcancer.org, BreastCancer.org, 10 Mar. 2017, http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.
  2. Wang, Hannah; Altemus, Jessica; Niazi, Farshad; Green, Holly; Calhoun, Benjamin C.; Sturgis, Charles; Grobmyer, Stephen R.; Eng, Charis. Breast tissue, oral and urinary microbiomes in breast cancer. Oncotarget. 14 Aug. 2017. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21490