Low calorie diet may prevent spread of breast cancer

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A new study has indicated that a low calorie diet may prevent the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body.

Scientists have made the discovery that the restriction of calories consumed may prevent triple negative breast cancers (TNBC), one of the most aggressive cancer forms and the least responsive to normal treatment, from spreading to other organs in the body by strengthening the tissues around the tumour.

The study was published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment and was done by the Department of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The research made use of a group of mice who were fed one third less than an alternate group. The results indicated that TNBC was less like to spread to other parts of the body in the mice that were on a restricted diet.

Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson University, Nicole Simone, said the diet appeared to turn on an epigenetic program which offered the mice protection from metastatic disease.

The study found that microbes which are said to increase TNBC experienced the greatest decrease when mice were on both a restrictive diet and received radiation. This decrease increased the production of proteins required to strengthen the tissues around the tumour.

Dr Simone stated that metabolism in females with cancer is very important during the treatment period. Recent studies have indicated that weight gain reduces the effectiveness of standard treatments. It also indicated that patients who gain weight during the treatment programme experience worse outcomes of the cancer.

Cancer patients are often provided with treatment methods such as hormonal therapy to stop the growth of the tumour, and steroid to counteract any side effects linked to chemotherapy. Both these treatments may change the metabolism of the patient, which could result in weight gain.

The results of this study will provide researchers with a molecular target to allow them to diagnose cancers that are at higher risk of metastasizing, and may possibly lead to the development of a new drug to treat the cancer.

Image Credit: Clotee Allochuku

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