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A study published in the journal Cancer Discovery finds that lung cancer progresses when the lungs are forced to regurgitate microbes. Prolonged mask use creates a moist environment that cultivates microbes. This toxic environment not only forces the person to regurgitate their own wastes, but also inundates the lungs with microbes that cause a toxic environment that feeds lung cancer.

The researchers found that the lungs are not just a sterile environment. When microbes inundate the lungs, they can activate an immune response. This causes inflammatory proteins such as the cytokine IL-17 to appear.

The bacteria colonies that caused the most damage was Veillonella, Prevotella, and Streptococcus bacteria, all of which are more readily cultivated in a mask. Tumor progression was associated with the enrichment of Veillonella, Prevotella, Streptococcus, and Rothia bacteria. The cultivated microbes infiltrate the lungs and affect genetic expression, namely the p53, PI3K/PTEN, ERK, and IL-6/IL-8 signaling pathways.

In further evaluation, the cultivation of Veillonella parvula in the lungs of mice led to expression of inflammatory proteins, increased expression of IL-17, and the presence of immune suppressing cells. “Given the results of our study, it is possible that changes to the lung microbiome could be used as a biomarker to predict prognosis or to stratify patients for treatment,” said Segal. Prolonged mask wearing not only puts strain on the heart and lungs but also cultivates a microbial environment that is more likely to infiltrate the lungs and create an environment of cancer.

For more on cancer research, check out Cancer.news.