Cells In Breast Milk May Aid Breast Cancer Research

Cells In Breast Milk May Aid Breast Cancer Research

Researchers from the University of Cambridge conducted a study and discovered that cells found in human breast milk are alive and could offer new insight into women’s health.

It is known that breastfeeding has a defensive influence against breast cancer. Nevertheless, the mechanisms behind that have not been clarified. Although studies involving mice indicate that the reason for this is alterations that happen during breastfeeding, it is challenging to thoroughly investigate those alterations since they can cause long-term epigenetic changes.

Breast tissue is dynamic and changes over the years during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and aging. The study focuses on the changes that occur during lactation in the course of the examination of the cells found in human milk. Researchers suggest a connection between breastfeeding and lower chances of developing breast cancer.

To establish the difference between the activated genes in lactating women and the genes in women who do not breastfeed, scientists separated breast cells from nine lactating women and conducted a genetic analysis. In addition, they compared these cells and those from seven women who had undergone a surgical procedure for breast reduction. It was found that two different cell populations are accountable for producing breast milk in breastfeeding women. The results indicate that the living breast cells in human milk may boost the child’s immunity.

The cells found in breastmilk look-alike cells are known as luminal progenitors, and they are essential because scientists believe they are the cells in which cancerous mutations initially develop. 

This study involved only a small number of participants. To obtain more accurate results, further research should include more donors. Altogether, this study is critical since its focus on the new approach to breast cells opens the door to future research on women’s health.

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

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