Scientists have discovered urine bacteria which could be linked to aggressive prostate cancers.
According to experts at the University of East Anglia, this identification could help with spotting signs and potentially preventing dangerous tumours.
Currently it is too early to say whether the urine bacteria causes cancer or is just a helpful marker.
Some bacterial infections play a part in the development of other cancers, such as a bug called H. pylori which can trigger stomach cancers. In these cases, a course of antibiotics can reduce the risk.
In the UAE research of more than 600 patients with and without prostate cancer, the study found the urine bacteria in those men who had prostate cancer.
The prostate is attached to a man’s urinary tract. The theory is that either undiagnosed infections are leading to prostate cancer as we see in stomach cancers or that if you have prostate cancer your body is less able to the remove bacteria.
Experts are waiting to see whether treating the infection with antibiotics clears the risk of the prostate cancer. But more work needs to be done to show this.
So what exactly is a urine bug and what should you look out for?
Dr Gareth Nye, an ambassador for the Society of Endocrinology, tells HuffPost: “Urine bugs are the common way to describe bacteria which can happily live within our urinary tract. Urinary tract infections are quite common with 50% of women experiencing one in their lives due to the nature of their anatomy.
“It’s far less common in men, reaching 14% at most. The bacteria that usually cause these infections more often than not come from our poo but other bacteria can also cause this.”
Urinary tract infections caused by bacteria can commonly lead to bladder infections or kidney infections as the bacteria grow and move along the urinary tract. Ultimately, this can cause kidney damage that impact your whole body.
So how do you know when it’s something more serious? And what should you do? Dr Nye advises: “If you think you have a urinary infection you should see a GP if you have the following symptoms:
- Pain/burning during urination
- Increased need to wee
- Blood in your urine
- Pain in your lower back
- Or any change in your temperature
“It’s important to seek medical help before an infection causes long lasting damage,” he adds.
If you have any of the symptoms above, you’re advised to see a GP to check your prostate, particularly if you are a man over the age of 50. Other symptoms include difficultly starting to urinate and a weak flow.
One in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer but the survival rate is currently 100% if caught early enough.