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New Study Shows Link Between Vaginal Bacteria and Ovarian Cancer

How much do you know about your vaginal microbiome? Most of us may not often think about the bacteria down there between our legs, but research is now showing that it is high time to give our vaginal biome some extra love.

A group of researchers, led by University College London, recently investigated whether there may be a possible link between an unbalanced vaginal microbiome, and women who are already or at risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The study, published on July 9, 2019, showed that too few of specific bacteria in the vagina can actually increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Insanely interesting, we think.

A bacterial species in the vagina that has been mentioned is lactobacillus, and it is essential for maintaining the right pH in the vagina and its microbiome. In the study, women were compared based on whether more or less than 50% of the species in the vagina was lactobacillus.

The study was conducted in two groups. One group consisted of women with ovarian cancer, as well as controls, and the other group of women diagnosed with a BRCA mutation, that is, they have an increased risk of suffering from both breast and ovarian cancer, as well as controls. A total of 176 women with ovarian cancer participated, 109 women with increased risk of ovarian cancer and 295 women without genetic predisposition. The women were ages 18-87 but were divided into over/under 50. They were from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Norway and the UK.

What did the results show?

Well, the researchers behind the report conclude that there is a link between ovarian cancer or a genetic risk of getting ovarian cancer by having less than 50% lactobacillus in the vaginal microbiome. They hope that the results and methodology used in the study can be used to identify women with the disease at an earlier stage.

The researchers also say that women who use excessive amounts of vaginal hygiene products have a smaller amount of good bacteria in the vagina and thus an increased risk of ovarian cancer. But more research is needed, both to ensure the connection and to find out more about if the method can be used to detect more cases of the disease.

Fascinating, we’re looking forward to more research in this area and we will keep you posted!

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