Postmenopausal Women, Obesity, and Breast Cancer Risk

Using a simple urine test, researchers have identified a biomarker that may correlate with breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.  Sangmi Kim, PhD, is corresponding author of a collaborative study investigating the association between urinary levels of a hormone-like compound called prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and breast cancer risk in 607 postmenopausal women.  It has been suggested that obesity induces inflammation within fat tissue of the breast, which increases PGE2 activity, leading to increased estrogen levels.  Estrogen is thought to be related to breast cancer and can be derived from fat tissue in postmenopausal women.  Published in the American Association for Cancer Research’s Cancer Prevention Research, Dr. Kim and colleagues show that urinary levels of a PGE2 metabolite were associated with smoking, high-saturated fat diet, obesity, and an increased risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women who were not currently taking non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  The significance of these findings is supported by an accompanying commentary published in the same issue (see reference below).  Confirmation of these results by larger follow-up studies may lead to the use of this biomarker in assessing cancer prevention efficacy.

[Kim S, Taylor JA, Milne GL, and Sandler DP. Association between urinary prostaglandin E2 metabolite and breast cancer risk: A prospective, case-cohort study of postmenopausal women. Cancer Prev Res; 6(6); 511-518. Commentary: Wang D and DuBois RN. Urinary PGE-M: A promising cancer biomarker. Cancer Prev Res; 6(6); 507-511.]
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Allison Brown
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Written by Allison Brown

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