The finding could be used to identify women at high risk of cancer, which has no screening test, BBC reports. But the research team warns it is too soon to recommend women should be given protective doses of the good bacteria.
Results of the study which was led by University College London, were published in the Lancet Oncology.
Risks of developing ovarian cancer The aim of the study was to establish whether women with, or at risk of developing ovarian cancer have an imbalanced cervicovaginal microbiome. The research team did a case-control study in two sets of women aged 18—87 years in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Norway, and the UK. Participants were recruited between Jan 2,and July 21, The ovarian cancer group comprised women with epithelial ovarian cancer, healthy controls and 69 controls with benign gynaecological conditions.
The women were examined and samples were taken using the same collection method used in cervical screening. Lactobacillus and its role for the vagina The bacteria Lactobacillus is thought to be particularly important in the vagina.
Experts believe it stops other unhelpful or bad microbes from taking up residence and causing harm. Lactobacilli levels were significantly lower in the women under 50 with ovarian cancer or high-risk cancer genes.
Ovarian cancer under 50 is not clear whether this link is causal or if other factors might explain it, or how much of an impact it has on risk. We do not yet know for sure whether low levels of the beneficial bacteria leads to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but that is what we suspect.
It's been shown that women who use excessive vaginal hygiene products have lower levels of this bacterium too, and they are at increased risk of ovarian cancer", commented to BBC researcher Prof Martin Widschwendter.