In a study published Tuesday, researchers found evidence of a potential link between diet and mammary-gland microbiota, indicating a possible correlation between diet and breast cancer. Scientists fed monkeys on either Western or Mediterranean diets for 31 weeks, and measured “an approximate 10-fold higher Lactobacillus abundance in the Mediterranean diet versus the Western diet group.” While more research is necessary, this link may point scientists towards a clearer view of how diet can influence breast cancer risk and eventually even suggest specific dietary changes as a prevention strategy.
Recent studies pointed to the existence of a microbiome specific to the mammary gland and subsequent research highlighted a decreased presence of Lactobacillus bacterium in patients with benign or malignant tumors in comparison to healthy women. Considering the previously-studied effect of diet in the gut-microbiome, researchers studied the effect of Mediterranean diet versus Western diet in the mammary-gland microbiome of Macaca fascicularis monkeys, a species often used in addressing breast cancer risk.
According to the WHO, about 2.1 million breast cancer cases are reported yearly with 627,000 deaths estimated for 2018. Globally, one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the most common and deadliest cancer for Mexican women over 25 years old, with most cases occurring between 40 and 59 years of age. The disease has been associated to several risk factors and 21 percent of all breast cancer deaths across the globe have been linked to overweight, obesity, little physical activity and/or alcohol consumption.
This discovery comes during the annual World Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Beyond the many efforts to raise awareness globally there are significant efforts to find ways to treat or prevent this disease. This newest link could shed light on some causes for the disease and eventually permit the generation of prevention strategies.
At this point, however, the best tool to treat breast cancer is its opportune detection. So, women are being encouraged to perform regular self-exams and undergo yearly mammograms to increase their chances for early detection.