Intake of probiotics in the body may help in increasing the proportion of beneficial bacteria in the breast which reduces the risk of breast cancer.
A study revealed that Lactobacillus and Streptococcus,which is a health-promoting bacteria, were found more prevalent in healthy breasts than in cancerous ones. Both groups have anticarcinogenic properties.
Thus, “our work raises the question that should women, especially those at risk for breast cancer, take probiotic lactobacilli to increase the proportion of beneficial bacteria in the breast?,” said Gregor Reid, Professor at Western University in Canada.
Conversely, women who were suffering from breast cancer also showed higher levels of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis — harmful bacterias’ — known to induce double-stranded breaks in DNA in HeLa cells (cultured human cells).“Double-strand breaks are the most detrimental type of DNA damage and are caused by genotoxins, reactive oxygen species and ionising radiation,” the researchers said.
The repair mechanism for double-stranded breaks is highly error prone and such errors can lead to the development of cancer.
Further, natural killer cells are critical to controlling growth of tumours and a low level of these immune cells is associated with elevated incidence of breast cancer.
Streptococcus thermophilus produces anti-oxidants that neutralise reactive oxygen species, which can cause DNA damage, and thus, cancer.
The study, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, suggested that the use of probiotics can help in protecting women against breast cancer.
Antibiotics targeting bacteria that abet cancer might be another option for fighting breast cancer management, Reid said.
In the study, the team examined breast tissues of 58 women who were undergoing lumpectomies or mastectomies for either benign (13 women) or cancerous (45 women) tumours, as well as from 23 healthy women who had undergone breast reductions or enhancements.
They analysed DNA sequencing to identify bacteria from the tissues and culturing to confirm that the organisms were alive.