In the recent studies conducted by a team of scientists, of which one is of Indian origin, it is founded that the obese women are more prone to the risk of having breast cancer. The type of cancer they are more exposed to is named as basal-like.
Researchers of the University of North Carolina have found that there occurs an alteration in the cellular micro-environment of the mammary glands in the obese females. This situation is favorable for the occurrence of tumors.
Known to an aggressive kind of breast cancer, the basal-like is said to be diagnosed in around 15-20 percent of women suffering from breast cancer. These cases are mostly found in young women from America or Africa. The women having basal-like cancer often have poor prognosis. Their treatment is also not possible with targeted therapies and related hormonal therapies that are effective in other forms of cancers.
Liza Makowski led a team of professors along with Sneha Sundaram came up with the mechanism that explains how obesity creates a favorable situation for growth of cancerous tumors of basal-like sub-type. Professor Liza Makowski is an assistant professor in UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and also holds a membership of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her co- professor, Senha Sundaram is post-doctoral fellow in Makowski Lab.
Makowski said that Obesity is a widespread disease and a major risk factor for causing breast cancer in women. He says that the cancer is curable and the only motive carry out the study was to understand the mechanism of the occurrence of the basal-like cancer so that the cause of the disease can be successfully prevented. However, preventing obesity is also an effective way of getting into this situation.
In order to study the mechanism of basal-like cancer thoroughly, a mouse model was designed. With this model, the team founded that obesity favors the growth factor signaling a pathway between HGF proteins and c-Met which is an oncogene which is linked to the formation of basal-like cancer.
The study conducted on animals revealed that the animals with increased level of HGF developed basal-like tumors. Makowski said that the study conducted by us was really unique and provided enough information regarding the trigger of the breast cancer. The surrounding tissue, Stroma plays an important role in the onset process. Though most of the scientists focus on the tumor alone, stroma can be considered as the soil on which the seed of breast cancer grows.