High Fat Diet Fuels Cancer Spread

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Past studies have shown that obesity may contribute to cancer. Purdue University researchers have now shown that eating a high fat diet fuels the spread of cancer, by feeding cancer cells, promoting metastasis.

Fat in lipids seems to provide energy to cancer cells, making them mobile. By using special imaging techniques, Purdue researchers were able to watch the process of how cancer cells disengage from each other, travel in the blood stream, and spread to other parts of the body when a high fat diet was given to mice in the laboratory.

According to Thuc T. Le, National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at Purdue who assisted the research, "If the cancer cells don't have excess lipids they stick together and form very tight junctions in tumors, but increasing lipids causes them to take on a rounded shape and separate from each other. The findings showed a three hundred percent increase in the spread of cancer when mice in the study were given a high fat diet.

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The researchers found that polyunsaturated fats allowed cancer cells to change shape and enter the blood stream. The scientists used a technique called intravital flow cytometry to count cancer cells in the bloodstream of the mice fed a high fat diet, comparing to those fed a low fat diet. They documented changes that occurred in the cancer cells after the mice ate a high fat diet.

According to Ji-Xin Cheng, an assistant professor in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry, "It is generally accepted that diet and obesity are accountable for 30 percent of preventable causes of cancer, but nobody really knows why. These findings demonstrate that an increase in lipids leads directly to a rise in cancer metastasis."

The change in shape of cancer cells, brought about by a high fat diet, seems to be essential for fueling the spread of cancer. The researchers plan more studies to find out exactly what role obesity plays in causing cancer and how fat and high fat diets fuel the spread of cancer.

Things You Need To Know About High Fat Diets

Source: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009a/090225ChengFatcancer.html

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