A specific strain of staph bacteria could help prevent skin cancer, a new study has found.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego exposed mice with tumors to Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria and found that a molecule produced by the bacteria stopped the tumors from growing.
One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The findings could lead to a new way to decrease the risk of skin cancer or a less toxic way to treat existing cancer, lead researcher Dr Richard Gallo told Daily Mail Online.
A study by the University of California San Diego found that strains of a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermidis (pictured) prevented the growth of skin cancer tumors
The researchers at UCSD had set out to determine if harmless types of Staphylococcus bacteria could be effective in fighting other bacteria that cause diseases when they stumbled on the skin cancer results.
There are 11 types of Staphylococcus bacteria that can live on the skin or in the nose.
While in most cases the bacteria are harmless, it can can cause infections with symptoms ranging from mild skin irritation to life-threatening blood poisoning.
One of the most dangerous forms of staph infection is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can eat away at a person's flesh.
'We were looking for chemicals that could kill bacteria like MRSA, and accidentally discovered an anti-tumor activity,' Dr Gallo, chair of the Department of Dermatology, said.
Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the US, affecting one in five people by age 70.
More Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined.
Skin cancers are divided into two categories, melanoma and nonmelanoma.
Both of the two most common types of skin cancer fall into the nonmelanoma category:Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form with 4.3 million cases diagnosed each year, resulting in more than 3,000 deathsSquamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form with more than one million cases diagnosed each year resulting in more than 15,000 deaths
An estimated 178,000 cases of melanoma are expected to be diagnosed in 2018.
Melanomas kill one person in the US every hour.
The US spends an estimated $8.1 billion each year