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Saturated fat tied to breast cancer in postmenopausal women

Higher proportion of saturated fatty acids in breasts of postmenopausal women may particularly increase the risk.

By: IANS | New York | Updated: June 8, 2016 12:42 pm
breast cancer, causes of breast cancer, what causes breast cancer, saturated fat, health news, post-menopause, menopause, postmenopausal women, postmenopausal risk of breast cancer Scientists have finally been able to directly measure the tissue where breast cancer begins. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

While unhealthy weight gain after menopause may put you at increased risk of breast cancer, a lot may depend on the type of fat that makes up fatty breast tissue, says a study.

The researchers found that higher proportion of saturated fatty acids in breasts of post menopausal women may particularly increase the risk.


Saturated fats comes from animal products like cheese, fatty meats and dairy desserts and tropical oils like palm oil, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and prevention (CDC).

The results of the study — published online in the journal Radiology — may help researchers determine the underlying mechanisms behind breast cancer development in some patients. The role of fat in breast cancer development and growth has been studied extensively using body mass index (BMI) and dietary fat intake. But the exact mechanism behind the increased risk in postmenopausal women with higher BMI is not fully understood.

One possibility is the increased production of estrogen and/or adipokines — which are cell-signaling proteins secreted by adipose, or fat, tissue — but there have been few studies specifically looking at the role of breast fat in cancer development. “Using a new method, we were able to directly measure the tissue where breast cancer begins in the hopes of understanding how fatty tissue correlates with cancer,” said lead researcher of the study Melanie Freed from New York University Langone Medical Center.

The researchers developed a novel MRI method called gradient-echo spectroscopic imaging that can estimate fractions of different types of fat in breast adipose tissue as a part of clinical breast MRI exam. 89 patients were included in the final analysis. Each patient’s height and weight was measured at the time of the exam and their BMI was calculated.

The results showed that a greater proportion of saturated fatty acids and a lower proportion of monounsaturated fatty acids were present in the breast tissue of postmenopausal women with invasive ductal carcinoma — the most common form of breast cancer — than in postmenopausal women with benign breast tissue.

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  1. Thomas Baird
    Jun 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm
    What a load of rubbish this article is!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The grain industry has lost the argument linking saturated fat with heart disease - which was based on manited studies from the 1950s. They encouraged us to replace healthy butter and lard with plastic margarine which is grey before it's d yellow!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Our bodies need saturated fat to build healthy cells in the body, while our brains are over 60 per cent saturated fat. Excess energy from sugar is converted to saturated fat. Saturated fat fills us up so that we know when to stop eating, and we need to full amount of fat in w milk to absorb fat soluble nutrients.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Get stuffed with your studies.
    1. David Brown
      Jun 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm
      From this article: "Saturated fats comes from animal products like cheese, fatty meats and dairy desserts and tropical oils like palm oil, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and prevention (CDC)."lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;From the original press release: "... more research is needed to determine the role of fat composition in low-risk postmenopausal women, the authors say. They also point out that further research also is needed to determine how these fats, which are created in the body and are NOT (emphasis mine) correlated with dietary intake, may influence cancer development."lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The CDC quote about dietary fat is inappropriate because it implies that dietary fat determines the composition of breast fat. Clearly, someone is confused.
      1. M
        Maria Jasmine
        Jun 9, 2016 at 10:14 am
        Interesting; but this still is not a reason to believe that what women get in their diet is translated in breast tissue, or that breast tissue consution is exclusively derived from diet! There is still the " monitor" of underlying genes and biochemical mechanism alteration allowing for recruiting whatever is avialble of saturated fat in favor of a sprouting breast cancer. Sorry, the equation is not staightforward, and there is still much to be revealed about namely palm oil which was a staple for generations of potions!!