New research illustrates that adipose tissue, which is fat, may impact the development of cancer in a variety of ways. The ways it impacts cancer development depends on the type of fat and where it is located in the human body, according to ScienceDaily.

This research was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, which is a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Researchers from the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah looked at adipose tissue in order to determine the role obesity plays in cancer development.

“Obesity is increasing dramatically worldwide, and is now also recognized as one of the major risk factors for cancer, with 16 different types of cancer linked to obesity,” said Cornelia M. Ulrich, PhD, Senior Director of Population Sciences at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “We urgently need to identify the specific mechanisms that link obesity to cancer.”

Past research has found that fatty tissue impacts carcinogenesis and general obesity raises inflammation risk, said Ulrich. Additionally, obesity is associated with cancer cell metabolism and issues with immunity.

All of these problems are linked to cancer cell growth and proliferation. The researchers looked at signaling pathways among different types of cells.

Fatty cells and carcinogenesis have a specific signaling pathway and the researchers attempted to identify ways to break up this signaling pathway in order to prevent cancer growth.

Ulrich and colleagues took part in a literature review of PubMed/Medline from 1946 to March 2017 to better understand the signaling pathway between carcinomas and adipose tissue.

The researchers found 20 studies with specific information addressing the issues. A number of studies have shown that adipose stromal cells and tissue leads to the growth of tumors.

Adipose stromal cells were found to be more common in obese breast cancer patients and obese prostate cancer patients. Some types of adipose tissue is more metabolically active and are injecting chemicals into the body that lead to cancer growth.

The three types of fat in the human body include white, brown, and beige. Each type acts differently. White adipose tissue has been linked to worse outcomes in breast cancer patients and associated with inflammation.

The researchers looked at the impact of fat on breast, colorectal, esophageal, endometrial, prostate, and ear-nose-throat cancer. In breast cancer, the adipose tissue is found directly in the tumor microenvironment.

The researchers are looking to find ways to disrupt the obesity-cancer link and stop the processes that fuel cancer growth.

“We are just beginning to unravel the ways crosstalk occurs and the substances involved,” Ulrich said. “The more we understand this process, the better we can identify targets and strategies for decreasing the burden of obesity-related cancer.”

Ulrich also explained that metabolites “cast a broad net that catches previously unknown substances exchanged between fat cells and cancer.”

Essentially, the more fat and adipose tissue in your body, the higher the chance cancer cells will grow and metastasize. In order to prevent breast cancer and other types of cancers, make sure to keep your weight at healthy levels.

Be sure to exercise vigorously for at least half an hour per day and eat a plant-based diet. Keeping your weight at healthy levels and preventing obesity will go a long way to improve your health and keep you cancer-free.

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