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Archive - 08 - 2010
August 31, 2010 (EurekAlert) - Girls eating a high-fat diet during puberty, even those who do not become overweight or obese, may be at a greater risk of developing breast cancer later in life, according to Michigan State University researchers.
The implications - that a high-fat diet may have detrimental effects independent of its effect to cause obesity - could drive new cancer prevention efforts.
The findings come from research at MSU's Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center, established in 2003 and funded through 2010 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute.
Physiology professor Sandra Haslam, director of the center, and Richard Schwartz, microbiology professor and associate dean in the College of Natural Science, are now expanding that research with a new, five-year, $2.3 million federal grant. They will use that funding to continue their work studying the impact of prenatal-to-adult environmental exposures that predispose women to breast cancer as part of the extended nationwide Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program.
"The pubertal time period is crucial, as this is when the basic framework is created for mammary gland development," Haslam said. "What we are seeing from preliminary research in animals is that a high-fat diet during puberty can lead to the production of inflammatory products in the mammary glands of adults, which can promote cancer growth."
The work builds on the team's previous research that found the hormone progesterone activates genes that trigger inflammation in the mammary gland; that inflammation may be a key factor in increasing the risk of breast cancer. Those findings were published last year in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Haslam and Schwartz discovered that a high-fat diet during puberty produced many of the same effects seen as part of their progesterone research.
"Understanding what genes were turned on by progesterone led us to look at some of the same suspects with high-fat diets," Schwartz said. "It appears both processes may lead to inflammation in the mammary glands."
Since these inflammatory changes first occur during the crucial time of puberty, a period of intense development and cell division, it can have effects lasting a lifetime.
To test their findings, Haslam and Schwartz will lead a team analyzing two different mouse models of breast cancer and the effects of high-fat diets during puberty. They also will test several anti-inflammation interventions designed to overcome the negative effects of a high-fat diet on inflammation.
The initial MSU Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center brought together researchers from MSU's colleges of Natural Science, Human Medicine and Veterinary Medicine to perform research into environmental impacts during puberty that affect breast cancer risk, as well as researchers in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences to study how to best communicate breast cancer health messages to the public.
The next phase of the studies will be through the expanded national Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program. Besides performing biomedical research, the new project also will strive to communicate findings that can lessen the risk of breast cancer via awareness and avoidance of environmental risk factors. To that end, the Michigan Breast Cancer Coalition and colleagues in MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences are helping bring research findings to the public.
August 31, 2010 (EurekAlert) - A majority of adults in California are obese or overweight, and more than 2 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to a new study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Both conditions which are related to each other as well as to heart disease increased significantly in just six years, with the prevalence of diabetes alone jumping nearly 26 percent between 2001 and 2007.
The "epidemic" of obesity and diabetes leaves no racial, ethnic, economic or geographic segment of the state unscathed, according to the researchers. Although American Indians, African Americans and Latinos are particularly affected by both obesity and diabetes, these conditions increased among all racial and ethnic groups between 2001 and 2007.
Similarly, while both conditions disproportionately affect the poorest Californians, there were upward trends in prevalence among all income groups during the same time period. California's youth are also affected: More than a quarter of California adolescents some 970,000 children are obese or overweight.
"When so many people of different ages, income and educational levels, and cultural backgrounds are struggling with obesity and diabetes, it suggests that 'going on a diet' is not enough," said research co-author Dr. Allison Diamant, a faculty associate with the center and an associate adjunct professor of general internal medicine and health services research. "We need to take a hard look at the environmental and structural factors that contribute to these conditions."
The study specifically recommends that policymakers and others seek ways to increase access to recreational facilities and parks, as well as promote policies that encourage farmers markets and improve access to food outlets that stock fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy fare.
The consequences of failure are severe. California is falling far short of the targets for obesity and diabetes set by Healthy People 2010, a national health-promotion and disease-prevention plan. For example, obesity among California adolescents is more than twice as high as the national target of 5.0 percent, while the rate of diabetes among California adults is more than three times the federal goal of 2.5 percent of the population.
"It is a travesty that beer and Flaming Hot Cheetos are more readily available than an apple in low-income communities across the state," said Dr. Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, which supported the study. "Local governments must support community efforts to bring in healthy food to these communities and expand opportunities for children and families to engage in physical activity by cleaning up parks and improving community safety."
In California, the total annual cost of diabetes is estimated to be $24 billion, with $17 billion spent on direct medical care and $7 billion on indirect costs associated with the disease. The cost of obesity to families, employers, the health care industry and the government is equally steep: $21 billion. If obesity and diabetes continue to affect more and more of the population, the associated costs will continue to grow.
Although there are a number of factors associated with diabetes and obesity, ranging from genetics to individual behaviors, the composition and structure of neighborhoods and social environments have been increasingly implicated as impediments to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Both physical activity and healthy eating are important for preventing and reducing obesity and diabetes.
California has enacted reforms to encourage healthy eating, including requiring chain restaurants to display calorie information and prohibiting the sale of soda and other sweetened beverages on K12 school campuses.
However, the study authors conclude that more needs to be done to promote environments that promote regular exercise and healthy eating.
Other study findings:
Obesity prevalence was highest in Imperial (39.6 percent), Merced (34.3 percent) and Tulare (31.1 percent) counties, while diabetes prevalence was highest in Tulare (12.1 percent) and Fresno (10.9 percent). Regionally, the San Joaquin Valley had the highest prevalence of both obesity (30.0 percent) and diabetes (9.4 percent). Los Angeles County, due to the size of its population, had by far the most obese residents (1.7 million) and the most residents diagnosed with diabetes (642,000).
Low-income adults at risk
Adults living below the poverty line had a significantly higher prevalence of obesity (27.7 percent) than higher-income adults (19.6 percent). Similarly, diabetes was more prevalent among the poorest adults those living below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Education a factor
The prevalence of obesity was nearly twice as high among adults with no more than an eighth-grade education (30.3 percent) as among those who graduated from college (14.9 percent). Diabetes prevalence was three times as high among adults with no high school education (14.8 percent) as among those who graduated from college (5.1 percent).
The study is based on data from the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation's largest state health survey.