Unlocking secrets of breast tissue

A unique population of microbes in the female breast may lay the groundwork for understanding how this bacterial community contributes to health and disease, according to a new study out of Western University (London, Canada). The study titled "Microbiota of human breast tissue," is now published online, in advance of the May issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The human body is home to a large and diverse population of with properties that are both harmful and beneficial to our health. Studies are revealing the presence of bacteria in unexpected sites.

This new research has uncovered bacteria in breast tissue associated with cancer. Forms of bacteria known as 'Proteobacteria' were the most abundant, potentially as they are able to metabolize the , said the paper's first author, Camilla Urbaniak, a PhD student in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. Her studies, under the supervision of Lawson Health Research Institute Scientist and Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry Professor Gregor Reid, involved breast tissue from 81 women in Canada and Ireland. Ten of the women undergoing breast reduction acted as controls, with 71 having benign or cancerous tumors. Bacteria were found in and beside the tumours.

"Although we have not proven that bacteria cause cancer, or that certain types of bacteria actually may reduce the risk of cancer, the findings open a completely new avenue for this important disease," said Reid. "Imagine if women have a microbiota in the breast that puts them at higher risk of cancer? Or, if various drugs such as antibiotics or birth control pills alter the types of bacteria and their risk of cancer?"

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First look at breast microbiota raises tantalizing questions

Mar 24, 2014

The female breast contains a unique population of microbes relative to the rest of the body, according to the first-ever study of the breast microbiome. That study sought to lay the groundwork for understanding how this bacterial ...

The role of fat in assessing breast cancer risk

Oct 26, 2011

It is known that a high proportion of dense breast tissue, as seen with a mammogram, is associated with a high risk of breast cancer. But the role of non-dense fat tissue in the breast is less clear. New research published ...

Recommended for you

Mutations need help from aging tissue to cause leukemia

2 hours ago

Why are older people at higher risk for developing cancer? Prevailing opinion holds that, over time, your body's cells accumulate DNA damage and that eventually this damage catches up with the body in a way ...

Specific oxidation regulates cellular functions

7 hours ago

For a long time, hydrogen peroxide has been considered as a dangerous metabolite that can damage cells through oxidation. This, however, is not its only role in the cell. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center ...

New disease mechanism discovered in lymphoma

7 hours ago

Programmed cell death is a mechanism that causes defective and potentially harmful cells to destroy themselves. It serves a number of purposes in the body, including the prevention of malignant tumor growth. ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.