Carbohydrate Connection to Cancer?

Breast cancer development may be linked to metabolism protein

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of chronic diseases, including cancer. Breast cancer, in particular, has been associated with carrying too much weight. Scientists have drilled down on this link.

A protein called C-terminal binding protein (CtBP) is often present when your metabolism gets out of whack. Eating too many carbohydrates can put this protein into overdrive.

Overactive CtBP may increase the risks of breast cancer, particularly aggressive ones, according to new research.

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Scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health, and colleagues conducted this study. Kevin Gardner, MD, PhD, head of NCI’s Transcription Regulation Section, Genetics Branch, was the lead investigator.

“Modifying diet and maintaining a healthy diet, combined with developing pharmacological ways of lessening CtBP activity, may one day lead to a way to break the link between cancer and obesity,” Dr. Gardner said in a statement.

Earlier research has suggested that weight gain and obesity resulting from diets high in carbohydrates may increase breast cancer risks by modifying the activity of the BRCA1 gene. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

The researchers found this activity partially explains why women who have hereditary mutations of BRCA1 also have increased breast cancer risks if they gain weight.

In studying the activity and levels of CtBP in human tumor cells, the researchers found that low levels of the protein stabilized tumor growth. Patients with high levels of CtBP had more aggressive cancers and shorter survival.

“Our new work suggests that targeting CtBP may provide a way of treating breast cancer and possibly preventing breast cancer,” said Dr. Gardner.

“Research should continue to focus on the link between obesity, CtBP and breast cancer. This will require more population-based studies and multi-disciplinary teams of scientist to investigate these links.”

This study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute, was published February 5 in the journal Nature Communications.

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Review Date: 
February 7, 2013
Last Updated:
August 19, 2013