Eating a high-fat diet during adolescent years may spur a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer in later life, researchers have found.

Furthermore, a regular ingestion of such diet fabricates ‘basal-like’ genes in the lesions. Such signature genes are known to worsen the prognosis of the disease, researchers said.

Thus, a high-fat diet during puberty not only increases the odds of breast cancer development, but also fuel more aggressive tumors, the study found.

The study
For the purpose of the study, researchers at the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program at Michigan State University used preclinical models.

Researchers found that before the surfacing of the tumors numerous changes in the breasts take place, including increased cell growth and amendments in immune cells.

A high-fat diet during puberty brings about more rapid changes in breasts, study’s lead researcher, Sandra Haslam, Professor of physiology at the Michigan State University, marked.

Besides accelerating the development of malignancy in the breast tissue, high fat diet also leads to creation of a distinct gene signature, known as basal-like. Such genes are known to fuel more aggressive tumors.

“This is very significant because even though the cancers arise from random mutations, the gene signature indicating a basal-like breast cancer shows the overarching and potent influence this type of diet has in the breast.

“Cancers of this type are more aggressive in nature and typically occur in younger women,” Haslam pointed.

High fat diet and not weight gain blamed for increased breast cancer risk
Researchers pointed that it was the intake of high fat diet during puberty that increased the risk of developing breast cancer and not the weight gain associated with the intake of more fats.

“This shows the culprit is the fat itself rather than weight gain,” study’s co-researcher, Richard Schwartz, microbiology professor and associate dean in the College of Natural Science, averred.

Intake of high fats during puberty years brings about permanent changes in the body structure and shifting to low-fat diet later brings no respite, Schwartz highlighted. Thus, avoiding excessive dietary fat during early adolescent years may help lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer later in life.

The findings of the study find mention in the current online issue of Breast Cancer Research.


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