Possible Association Between Obesity and Male Breast Cancer Discovered

Possible Association Between Obesity and Male Breast Cancer Discovered

Scientists from the University of Leeds have found a possible connection between the rise observed in obesity rates and the increase of the total cases of male breast cancer. These findings, which were recently published in the BMC Medicine journal with financial support for the study provided by the charity Yorkshire Cancer Research, suggest a connection between female hormones that are produced in fat cells of men who are obese and the growth of cancerous tumors.

Professor Speirs, based at the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine, said: “We have known for a long time that fat cells contain enzymes that convert male hormones(testosterone) into female hormones (estrogen). It follows logically that the more fat you carry the more opportunity you have for estrogen production, so men with a body mass index over 25 have more female hormones in their blood. We also know that more than 90% of male breast cancers seen in the clinic have receptors on the cell surface that recognize these female hormones and use them to grow.”

Matthew Humphries from the School of Medicine and the University was also involved in the project and observed that cholesterol can be converted into another molecule that mimics estrogen’s activity. Men who are obese tend to have much higher levels of cholesterol, and because of that they have more of the compound that mimics estrogen within their bodies, which boosts cancer growth.

Recently reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago was the fact that obesity is set to overtake tobacco as the number-one cause of cancer.

Dr Humphries concluded: “One of the most worrying global public health issues is the rise in the number of overweight and obese people, especially in the developed world. As well as raising awareness of male breast cancer we also wish to stress that obesity is a preventable condition and men can take measures to reduce their risk of developing the disease, including eating a healthier diet. This is especially important for men at higher risk, for example, those with BRCA mutations in the family.”

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Obesity has been linked to many health problems in the general population. A team of researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery of Trinity College Dublin, the University of Gothenberg, and City University London conducted a study to determine the health risks of obese pregnant women, both for themselves and their babies. The study was recently published in the Obesity Reviews journal and sheds new light on the subject.

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