And in non shocking news of the day – more overselling of the microbiome

Well, just read this story: Possible link between bacteria and breast cancer: study | CTV London News.  Serious overselling of the microbiome going on here.  As far as I can tell, all that was shown in the work discussed here (for which there is no publication or presentation of any kind reported) is that the bacteria found in canecrous breast tissue differs from that in non cancerous tissue.  Interesting perhaps.  But not really that informative as just about every time anyone has ever looked at two samples from patients with different health conditions, the microbiome is different.  Much worse that suggestions about the meaning of the differences they observe, the article then goes on to state:

And since we know that priobiotics can positively affect gut health, might the same beneficial substances influence breast health? Related bacterial research offers tantalizing possibilities. 

“It shows you how closely associated microbes are with our body and our health,” Reid says. “And therefore when you try and modulate them through probiotics chances are you could have an effect that’s beneficial.”

What?  Not only does Dr. Reid say, incorrectly, that “chances are you could have an effect that’s beneficial” simply by trying to use probtiotics to modeulate health.  But the whole ending to the article implies that somehow, magically, probiotics are a good idea for preventing breast cancer.  Uggh.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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