Connection between obesity and cancer

A new discovery was made at the Laboratory of Tumour Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA. It seems there is a stark connection between obesity and, pancreatic and breast cancers. This has laid the path to the development of preventive treatments to address the disease.

“The fact that this new mechanism underlies obesity’s impact on two types of cancer suggests that it may be a common mechanism of tumour induction that could apply to other cancer types,”

study co-author Dr. Rakesh Jain, Director of the Laboratory of Tumour Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, stated in a hospital news release.

Increased Growth Factors in obese patients

Researchers found that more than half the patients diagnosed with these two forms of cancer were obese or overweight, reaffirming findings from previous studies that had linked obesity to increased chances of death through cancer. Despite the findings, the cause for the link has not yet been established.

In laboratory experiments conducted on animals as well as patient samples, scientists found large amounts of protein known as placental growth factor (PlGF) present in obese patients. It was also noted that when PIGF binds itself to VEGFR-1 (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor), tumours are stimulated. Growth factors stimulate cell growth, proliferation, healing, and differentiation. They are usually proteins or a steroid hormones.This suggests that the solution may be in targeting the growth factor (PlGF/VEGFR-1) pathways.

Studies conducted on obese and lean mice

The study conducted on animals does not provide conclusive evidence for human treatment. Researchers limited VEGFR-1 in obese mice and saw a lowered risk of tumour progression. The same procedure on lean mice did not show the same result. The underlying fact is that obesity brings with it tremendous risks towards cancer progression. It would be recommended to shed a few pounds and maintain optimal fitness levels, if you’re overweight. Your health risks with regard to cancer, cardiac disease and bone density will dramatically reduce.

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