High Fat Diet: Pubertal Effect on Breast Cancer Development

Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. Professor, Associate Dean for Graduate Academic and Student Affairs College of Natural Science Michigan State University Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-4320 MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor, Associate Dean for Graduate Academic and Student Affairs College of Natural Science Michigan State University
Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 48824-4320

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Schwartz: The main finding is that exposure to a high fat diet from the age of puberty onwards hastened the development of chemical carcinogen-induced breast cancer in absence of weight gain. We also found that prior to the appearance of any tumors, we could detect changes in the mammary gland that included increased cellular proliferation, increased vascularity, and changes in immune function.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Schwartz: The biggest surprise was the magnitude of the effect. The median time of occurrence of tumors was reduced by about 3 months in the mice tested.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Schwartz: We already know that an extreme high fat diet and consequent obesity (in our experiments we used lard, saturated animal fat) has negative consequences for heart disease and diabetes. This adds another potential negative consequence of such a diet, even perhaps for those who do not gain weight. These studies give another reason to avoid excessive fat in our diets.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Schwartz: The directions for future research are many.

1. What are the consequences of exposure to a high fat diet at various life stages? We have preliminary data that puberty is a critical period.

2. What are the effects of various kinds of fats? And how do they interact with various carcinogenic agents?

3. Are the early occurring proliferative, vascular, and immune function perturbations observed in our experimental system causally linked to the development of breast cancer?

Citation:

Pubertal high fat diet: effects on mammary cancer development.

Zhao Y, Tan YS, Aupperlee MD, Langohr IM, Kirk EL, Troester MA, Schwartz RC, Haslam SZ.
Breast Cancer Res. 2013 Oct 25;15(5):R100.
PMID: 24156623 PubMed – as supplied by publisher]