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Breast Cancer and Childhood Diet

?Researchers from the University of California have found that a woman’s childhood diet and nutrition can affect the risk of developing breast cancer later in adulthood.

A new study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of California in Davis has found evidence that links a woman’s diet in early childhood to increased risk for breast cancer as an adult. The UC researchers found that that diet and nutrition along with a few other related factors early in life can increase the risk of developing breast cancer later in adulthood, and surprisingly, the increased risks were found to be completely independent of a woman’s natural production of the estrogen, a factor that was previously considered as a major component of the often fatal disease.

The researcher’s findings that estrogen is a less critical factor in breast cancer than once thought appear to deliver new insights into all of the body’s processes that regulate normal breast development in women, and also point to a relation to the risk of developing breast cancer later in life as an adult. Russ Hovey, a UC Davis associate professor of animal science and senior author on the recent study said of the lack of an involvement of the hormone estrogen that "It's long been assumed that circulating estrogens from the ovaries, which underlie normal female reproductive development, were crucial for the onset of breast growth and development. Our findings, however, suggest that diet and shifts in body metabolism that parallel changes seen during obesity and Type 2 diabetes can also stimulate breast growth entirely independent of estrogen's effects. “

The fact the professor Hovey is an animal science expert came into play as the UC research team used experiments with live mice in order to arrive at their surprising conclusions about breast cancer in humans. The team used mice to experiment with diets that augmented supplies of fatty acids to mimic specific aspects of a metabolic syndrome that has been linked to a variety of body changes associated with the development of obesity that have also been shown to increase the risk of a woman developing Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study added the fatty acids to the diets of the mice because previous studies have shown increased fatty acids in the diet can interfere with the normal metabolic processes in humans.

In the UC experiments, the supplemental fatty acids caused the mammary ducts grow and caused an increased formation of mammary tumors in some of the mice, although it was also shown that different genetic mouse strains responded differently to the fatty acid supplements. The researchers were able to rule out estrogen as the cause of the increased growth of breast tissues by testing both male mice and female mice with blocked estrogen functions to come up with their supposition that there is also a genetic factor in the role of how diet and related metabolic changes affect the risk of breast cancer in different populations at later stages in life. The findings also appear to indicate major changes in human breast development before puberty and after menopause, the two main periods of life when estrogens are lower in all women. The study’s findings will also likely lead to further experiments to determine how breast development at earlier ages in humans also appear to be related the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States today.

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