EAST LANSING, Mich. Girls eating a high-fat diet during puberty, even those who do not become overweight or obese, may be at a greater risk of developing breast cancer later in life, according to Michigan State University researchers.
The implications that a high-fat diet may have detrimental effects independent of its effect to cause obesity could drive new cancer prevention efforts.
The findings come from research at MSU's Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center, established in 2003 and funded through 2010 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute.
Physiology professor Sandra Haslam, director of the center, and Richard Schwartz, microbiology professor and associate dean in the College of Natural Science, are now expanding that research with a new, five-year, $2.3 million federal grant. They will use that funding to continue their work studying the impact of prenatal-to-adult environmental exposures that predispose women to breast cancer as part of the extended nationwide Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program.
"The pubertal time period is crucial, as this is when the basic framework is created for mammary gland development," Haslam said. "What we are seeing from preliminary research in animals is that a high-fat diet during puberty can lead to the production of inflammatory products in the mammary glands of adults, which can promote cancer growth."
The work builds on the team's previous research that found the hormone progesterone activates genes that trigger inflammation in the mammary gland; that inflammation may be a key factor in increasing the risk of breast cancer. Those findings were published last year in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Haslam and Schwartz discovered that a high-fat diet during puberty produced many of the same effects seen as part of their progesterone research.
|Contact: Jason Cody|
Michigan State University