Possible link of antibiotics and breast cancer growth speed


here could be a possible link between antibiotic use and the speed of breast cancer growth, a study of mice has suggested.

Antibiotics are often prescribed to breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to control infections during treatment.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) set out to research whether disruption of the healthy bacteria in the gut caused by antibiotic use would have an effect on tumour growth.

The role of the gut microbiome has been examined in relation of several cancers. The study, funded by the charity Breast Cancer Now, found the use of antibiotics led to the loss of a beneficial bacterial species in the gut, which in turn sped up tumour growth.

Mice used in the study which were treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics had an increased rate at which breast cancer tumours grew in them.

The research team also noticed an increase in the size of secondary tumours grew in other organs when the cancer spread.

But scientists also said they have found a type of immune cell which can be targeted to reverse the effects.

Further investigation found a larger number of immune cells, known as a mast cell, in tumours found in mice treated with antibiotics.

Publishing their findings in iScience, researchers said that when the function of these cells can be blocked then the aggressiveness of the tumour reduced.

Dr Stephen Robinson, group leader at the Quadram Institute at UEA, said: “With the rise in bacteria resistance to antibiotics we have known for many years that we need to be very careful about clinical antibiotic use.

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