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Scientists Are Finally Beginning To Understand Why This Factor Increases Cancer Risk

Although scientists have long understood that obese women are more likely to develop breast cancer, the reason for the increased risk has been unclear. Research published in 2015 begins to explain this link.

A Cornell University study analyzed breast tissue of both humans and mice and found that fibers surrounding the fat cells were stiffer in the obese than those found in normal-weight humans and mice. The researchers also placed precancerous cells within the fibers, as well as in tissues from normal-weight specimens, to study and compare their growth in both environments. The samples that grew in the more fibrous tissues were more prone to developing into cancerous cells.

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Photo by Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Flickr

The study compared tissue from mice that developed obesity as a result of overfeeding with tissue from mice that were obese due to genetic factors, reports HealthDay. There was no difference in the stiffness of the tissue between these two groups. When the researchers placed the mice on a weight-reducing diet, the stiffness of the tissue decreased slightly, indicating that weight loss may reduce breast cancer risk in humans.

The incidence of breast cancer is higher in obese women, and the prognosis after breast cancer treatment is worse for this group. Due to a limited understanding of the relationship between extra weight and breast cancer, there are few treatments that directly focus on this group. This new information may enable scientists to develop treatments that target the specific mechanisms that increase the incidence of breast cancer in the obese, states Inquisitr.

Although this new insight has not yet changed treatment options, it is another small step forward on the path to ending breast cancer.

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