A laboratory at Michigan State University published a study in the Breast Cancer Research’s current online issue published on November 26th 2013, suggesting that eating a high-fat diet beginning at puberty speeds up the development of breast cancer and may increase the risk of cancer similar to a type found in young adult women. In this study, saturated animal fat was used.
Two groups of the same strain of mice were issued either a low-fat diet (12% of calories came fat) or high-fat diet (60% of calories came from fat) at the age of three weeks. The mice maintained their perspective diets throughout the experimental period for up to 42 weeks.
In just three weeks, the researchers from the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program at Michigan State University noted that the mice showed inflamed breast and alterations in the immune cells. At 10 weeks, prior to the noticeable tumors, there were increased numbers of abnormal breast lesions, enhanced cell growth, increased growth factors, and increase formation of blood vessels in the breast. Although high-fat diet mice developed tumors significantly earlier than the low-fat diet mice, (Tumors were noticeable 115 days after diet for HFD versus 204 days after diet for LFD.) there were no significant differences in body weight or in their fat pads throughout the course of the study.
“It’s important to note that since our experimental model did not involve any weight gain from the high-fat diet, these findings are relevant to a much broader segment of the population than just those who are overweight,” said Richard Schwartz, microbiology professor and associate dean in the College of Natural Science. “This shows the culprit is the fat itself rather than weight gain.”
Along with the increased breast cancer development, high-fat diets influenced the mice’s bodies to locally and systematically increase growth factor expression that is responsible for the promotion of tumors.
“Cancers of this type are more aggressive in nature and typically occur in younger women. This highlights the significance of our work toward efforts against the disease.” Said Sandra Haslam, physiology professor in MSU’s College of Human Medicine and one of the lead investigators of the project.
Richard Schwartz also added that these findings are preliminary and requires additional investigation. “Overall, our current research indicates that avoiding excessive dietary fat of this type may help lower one’s risk of breast cancer down the road,” he said. “And since there isn’t any evidence suggesting that avoiding this type of diet is harmful, it just makes sense to do it.”
High-fat diet during puberty speeds up breast cancer development. (n.d.). Retrieved March 09, 2015, from http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/high-fat-diet-during-puberty-speeds-up-breast-cancer-development/
Zhao, Y., Tan, Y. S., Aupperlee, M. D., Langohr, I. M., Kirk, E. L., Troester, M. A., ... & Haslam, S. Z. (2013). Pubertal high fat diet: effects on mammary cancer development. Breast Cancer Res, 15(5), R100.