Medicine is slowly waking up to the relationship between health and the bacteria in our gut, known as the microbiome. But it's just got a whole lot more interesting still: the microbiome is all over our body, and one of the first discoveries is that breast cancer is linked to bacterial imbalances.
Healthy breast tissue has more of a 'good' bacteria known as Methylobacterium, say researchers who have also discovered that the breast area has its own 'mini-microbiome'.
This suggests that breast cancer could be treated with prebiotics and probiotics if tissue was being screened for bacterial imbalances, say researchers from the Cleveland Clinic.
They also discovered that the urine of cancer patients has increased levels of another type of bacteria, including Staphylococcus and Actinomyces.
Other researchers have for a long time suspected that breast tissue has its own micro-biome, but the Cleveland team is the first to positively identify it. It suggests that other organs could also have their own mini-microbiome that keeps bacteria in balance, and, in turn, helps maintain health.
The researchers examined the breast tissue from 78 patients who had had a mastectomy, as well as samples from an oral rinse and urine.