We have commented on several occasions that breast milk is a living, intelligent and inimitable food, which adapts to the needs of the baby at each stage of its development. Hence, it is recommended exclusively during the first six months of the baby and supplemented until at least two years of life.
Scientists continue to investigate its components, and recently a group of researchers have discovered breast cancer biomarkers in breast milk , as explained at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology during the Experimental Biology (EB ) 2022, held in Philadelphia (United States).
Specifically, they have identified certain proteins present in breast milk that can also be detected in blood serum. This finding opens the door to possible early detection of breast cancer with a simple blood test in women of all ages.
Possible early detection of breast cancer
“Although mammograms are a useful tool for detecting breast cancer early, they are not typically recommended for low-risk women under the age of 40. Since the biomarkers we have found in breast milk are also detectable in serum blood, screening could potentially be performed on women of any age using blood or breast milk, ”explains Danielle Whitham, a doctoral candidate at Clarkson University, in statements collected by Europa Press .
The identified biomarkers correspond to a specific type of cancer called invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), one of the most common types of breast cancer. However, the researchers say their method could be used to identify biomarkers for other types of breast cancer .
Screening for breast cancer through a blood test
The team used “breast milk because it contains proteins, epithelial cells and immune cells, all of which provide a wealth of information about what is happening in a woman’s body during a crucial time in breast development.”
For the study, breast milk samples were obtained from three women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer and from three women without cancer.
The researchers compared the relative levels of certain proteins between the two groups to identify differences in the women with cancer. The analysis revealed 23 proteins that were dysregulated . All of the proteins that showed differences had previously been shown to play a role in cancer or tumor development.
Once the biomarkers are identified, they plan to confirm the findings with a larger group of women. The next step is to check the applicability of protein biomarkers in blood serum. If those tests are successful, the team says a blood test could be developed that could be used in women of any age to monitor changes in proteins to detect breast cancer.
“If our future studies are successful, it could change the way women are screened for breast cancer and help earlier diagnosis.”