Obese women fearful of contracting a particularly aggressive type of breast
cancer should lose weight to reduce their risk, according to a study conducted
in the US.
The researchers, headed by Prof. Liza Makowski at the
University of North Carolina School of Medicine and just published in Breast
Cancer Research and Treatment, found that obese women face a significantly
increased risk of developing “basallike” breast cancer. The scientists outlined
in their article the biological mechanisms where obesity can create a favorable
environment for the growth of basal-like breast cancer tumors.
be an important piece of research,” said Prof.
Yechezkel Barenholz, a
world-renowned cancer and liposome researcher at the Hebrew University-Hadassah
Medical Center who has developed important cancer drugs.
“Obesity is widespread and is one of the few risk factors for breast cancer that
we may be able to control, hence our intention in this study was to better
understand the molecular mechanisms and/or biomarkers of obesity-related
basal-like breast cancer that could impact disease prevention.”
cancer is a heterogeneous disease made up of several distinct subtypes.
Basallike carcinoma is defined by its gene expression and protein expression
profile and classified as ductal carcinoma. The basallike subtype, an aggressive
form of breast cancer, is found in 15- 20 percent of women diagnosed with breast
cancer, with a high percentage of cases found among young and African-American
Women diagnosed with the basal-like subtype often have a poor
prognosis and cannot be treated with hormonal and targeted
“Our study was fairly unique in that we focused on the role
that the surrounding tissue in the breast, known as the stroma, plays in breast
cancer onset,” Makowski explained.
“Many scientists study the tumor
alone, but the stroma ‘soil’ where the cancer ‘seed’ grows is important in
helping that tumor grow.”
Since HGF levels are increased with obesity,
the study indicates that public health efforts to prevent obesity in at-risk
populations may be a clinically useful way of preventing the disease.