(PHILADELPHIA) Elevated fat and cholesterol levels found in a typical American-style diet play an important role in the growth and spread of breast cancer, say researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson.
The study, published in the January issue of The American Journal of Pathology, examines the role of fat and cholesterol in breast cancer development using a mouse model. The results show that mice fed a Western diet and predisposed to develop mammary tumors, can develop larger tumors that are faster growing and metastasize more easily, compared to animals eating a control diet.
The research team led by cancer biologist Philippe G. Frank, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, was interested in learning about the link between diet and breast cancer. The incidence rate of this cancer is five times higher in Western countries than in other developed countries. Moreover, studies have shown an increase in breast cancer incidence in immigrant populations that relocate from a region with low incidence. "These facts suggest strong environmental influence on breast cancer development," says Dr. Frank.
Dietary fat and cholesterol have been shown to be important risk factors in the development and progression of a number of tumor types, but diet-based studies in humans have reached contradictory conclusions. This has led Dr. Frank to turn to animal models of human cancer to examine links between cholesterol, diet, and cancer.
The research team turned to the PyMT mouse model to determine the role of dietary fat and cholesterol in tumor development. This mouse model is believed to closely parallel the pathogenesis of human breast cancer. PyMT mice were placed on a diet that contained 21.2 percent fat and 0.2 percent cholesterol, reflective of a typical Western diet. A control group of PyMT mice was fed a normal chow that had only 4.5 per
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Thomas Jefferson University