Scientists have long believed that obese women who developed estrogen-positive (ER+) breast cancer were at higher risk for death from the illness than lean women with the same diagnosis. A new MD Anderson study comparing obese mice with breast cancer and biological changes in breast cancer samples from patients now appears to indicate the tie.
The researchers were able to show evidence for how obesity may cause some women to develop ER+ breast cancer more quickly and with more deadly results.
“We examined the impact of fat cells and the proteins secreted by them on breast cancer growth in human and mouse breast cancers,” says Mong-Hong Lee, Ph.D., professor in Molecular and Cellular Oncology and the principal investigator of the project’s basic science component. “Our study reported direct evidence about the breast cancer-promoting impact of obesity and the biological functions and cellular signaling mechanisms involved in patients and laboratory experimental models.”
An MD Anderson clinical trial based on this study is currently in progress.
The study was funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Promise Grant; the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health; a Cancer Center Support Grant to MD Anderson; the Breast Cancer Research Foundation; and the National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program, Minority Supplement and Training Grant Program in Molecular Genetics; the Vietnam Education Foundation; the Rosalie B. Hite Foundation; and the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program.