Low-Calorie Diet Prevents Breast Cancer from Spreading, Study


Low-calorie diet prevents Triple-Negative Breast Cancer - one of the deadliest and aggressive forms of the disease - from spreading, according to a Thomas Jefferson University study.

Researchers believe that adhering to a healthy diet strengthens the tissue surrounding the tumour, eventually decreasing chances of the spreading of cancer.

According to Macmillan, TNBC is found in about 1 in every 5 women (15 to 20 percent) suffering from breast cancer. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 40 are more likely to have TNBC. This form of breast cancer spreads very quickly beyond the breast and is more likely to return after treatment, according to Breast Cancer.Org.

Many of the breast cancer patients undergo hormonal therapy to obstruct tumour growth and steroids to offset the side effects of chemotherapy. Both treatments modify the metabolism that can in turn cause weight gain. Average woman gain 10lb in the first year of treatment.

Previous studies showed breast cancer treatment becomes less effective in overweight patients. Plus, those who gain weight during the treatment are associated with worst cancer outcomes.

"That's why it's important to look at metabolism when treating women with cancer," said study leader Dr Nicole Simone, from the department of Radiation Oncology, in a press release.

For the study, the researchers conducted experiments on mice. They fed one group of mice a third less than another group. The researchers found that cancer cells decreased their production of microRNAs 17 and 20 (miR 17/20) in the dieting mice. These molecules play an important role in altering the pathways responsible for many disease processes, Catholic Online reports.

"We found that the diet turned on a programme that protected mice from metastatic disease," said Simone.

The researchers found that the volume of microRNAs decreased when the mice were treated with both radiation and calorie restriction. The reduced amounts of these molecules in turn increased the production of proteins that is responsible for strengthening the tissue surrounding the tumour.

"Calorie restriction promotes epigenetic changes in the breast tissue that keep the extracellular matrix strong. A strong matrix creates a sort of cage around the tumor, making it more difficult for cancer cells to escape and spread to new sites in the body," Simone said.

Researchers said that drugs that target a single molecular pathway like the miR17 are less likely to be as effective as calorie restriction. Simone's past research discovered that intake of less calorie content enhances the effectiveness of radiation therapy.

The findings are published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

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