Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in their lifetime. Virtually all diseases can be tied to genetics, obesity, lack of physical activity, and age as risk factors, being inclinations to developing diseases. Recent studies have proven that bacteria have implications in stomach and colon cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Now evidence is pointing to bacteria that influences both the development of and the protection from breast cancer.
Dr. Gregor Reid, a scientist at Western University, London Ontario, Canada sequenced DNA from breast tissue samples of a group of women. Breast tissue bacteria were identified in both healthy women and those afflicted with breast cancer. Healthy females had more Lactobacillus and Streptococcus bacteria, known to be protective and having anticarcinogenic effects.
Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermis bacteria were found in high levels in those women with breast cancer. These bacteria evoke their damage by causing double-stranded breaks in DNA cells. DNA, the hereditary material in organisms that contains genetic information is adversely affected by the damaging bacteria. The DNA can then potentially have errors in its repair that may lead to cancer development.
Despite this evidence, there are researchers who reject and even scoff at the possibilities of cancer being caused by bacteria. A hundred years ago William Russell, a pathologist in Edinburgh Scotland suggested that bacteria could be implicated in cancer. Other scientists later dismissed this theory as laboratory contaminants.
Now, however, more research is pointing to strong evidence that bacteria are at least partially involved in cancer development along with the other risk factors.
Are there then new possible cures or novel ways of preventing this dreaded disease? I want to stress that research is still not conclusive, but perhaps taking probiotics containing lactobacilli could ward off breast cancer. Also, could specific antibiotics be administered that kills the harmful bacteria?
Research continues as medical scientists look to find ways to understand the causes of disease and then for new options to combat and conquer the many maladies that afflict us.