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How do certain bacteria affect the risk of ovarian cancer?
Researchers have now found that the presence of insufficiently healthy vaginal bacteria could increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. Hopefully, this finding will make it easier for women at high risk of cancer to be identified in the future.
A recent study by University College London found that the presence of under-healthy vaginal bacteria in women appears to increase the risk of ovarian cancer. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "The Lancet Oncology".
Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed too late
Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer increases the likelihood of successful treatment, but typical symptoms such as flatulence can be confused with more common, less serious conditions such as menstrual cramps or irritable bowel syndrome. For many women, the disease is not diagnosed until the cancer has started to spread.
These factors increase the risk of ovarian cancer
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is not known, but certain factors increase a woman's risk: age, family history of ovarian or breast cancer, and obesity. In view of the latest results, researchers assume that certain microorganisms that live in our body also play an important role. There is increasing scientific evidence that the community of bacteria and other microbes that are native to us (our microbiome) affect our well-being and health. One type of beneficial bacteria that is thought to be particularly important in the vagina is called Lactobacillus. The researchers believe that these bacteria prevent other unhealthy microbes from doing damage to our bodies.
What role does the lactobacillus level play?
The current study included 176 women with ovarian cancer, 109 women with inherited high-risk genes for ovarian cancer (BRCA1 genes) and 295 women with no known genetic risk. The women were closely examined and samples were taken using the same sampling method used to screen the cervix. Lactobacillus levels were significantly lower in women under 50 with ovarian cancer or high-risk cancer genes. It is not clear whether this connection is the cause or whether other factors could explain it, the researchers explain.
More research is needed
There are several factors that can affect the risk of ovarian cancer and various factors that affect the composition of the vaginal bacteria. It is not easy to separate these elements. It is therefore necessary to examine closely how vaginal bacteria directly affect the risk of women developing ovarian cancer or whether completely different factors play an important role. Before women worry about the bacteria in their vagina, more research is needed to better understand how the vaginal microbiome can contribute to ovarian cancer and to find better ways to diagnose the disease, the researchers report. In the meantime, it is crucial for women to be aware of the symptoms and to see their doctor immediately if they are concerned.
Hygiene products can also remove healthy bacteria
The authors believe that benign bacteria provide a protective barrier to infections and prevent them from crossing the gynecological tract to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. It has been shown that women who use hygiene products to clean the vagina excessively carry less of this bacterium and are at higher risk of ovarian cancer. (as)
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- Early detection of ovarian cancer: Gynecologists often misjudge the consequences
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Nuno R Nené, Daniel Reisel, Andreas Leimbach, Dorella Franchi, Allison Jones et al .: Association between the cervicovaginal microbiome, BRCA1 mutation status, and risk of ovarian cancer: a case-control study, in The Lancet Oncology, The Lancet Oncology