In a comprehensive review, scientists report that adipose tissue, or fat, may influence the development of cancer in diverse ways, depending on the type of fat and the location in the body. The review was published in the September 2017 issue of Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). The article is titled “Signals from the Adipose Microenvironment and the Obesity-Cancer Link—A Systematic Review.” The senior author of the review is Cornelia M. Ulrich, PhD, Senior Director of Population Sciences at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. "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," Dr. Ulrich said. "We urgently need to identify the specific mechanisms that link obesity to cancer." Dr. Ulrich explained that previous research has shown several ways that fat contributes to carcinogenesis. For example, obesity increases the risk of inflammation, which has long been associated with cancer. Also, obesity is believed to affect cancer cell metabolism and immune clearance, all of which can contribute to the growth and spread of tumors, she said. The relationship between fat and carcinogenesis also depends upon "crosstalk," or the ways cells react when the same signal is shared by more than one signaling pathway in two different cell types, Dr. Ulrich explained. Identifying ways to interrupt the crosstalk could help researchers identify new cancer prevention strategies. In this study, Dr. Ulrich and colleagues, including researchers from the University of North Carolina, conducted a literature review of PubMed/Medline, covering publications from January 1946 to March 2017, seeking studies that explored crosstalk between adipose tissues and carcinomas.
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