Fat cells can fuel the growth and spread of skin cancer, new Sloan Kettering study finds
Is being fat a potential cause for a surge in cancer?
At least if you believe a story by Matthew Tontonoz a while back on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website.
It says, in short, that cancer cells eat fat to grow and spread.
It cites discoveries at the Sloan Kettering Institute that "melanoma cells in zebrafish use fat from nearby fat cells to fuel their growth and spread," and indicates that a new study finds fat cells, or adipocytes, are filled with fats called lipids that can fuel cancer's aggressiveness.
In humans as well as fish.
|Dr. Richard White
"This is the seed-and-soil hypothesis. Tumor cells like to go to places where there is fertile soil. Based on the results of our study, we think that adipose tissue can be very fertile soil for melanoma."
The story notes that "knowing that adipose tissue enables some cancer cells to grow and spread suggests that cutting off their fat supply could be a way to fight the disease."
The findings, it contends, "also add to the growing understanding of the link between obesity and cancer."
White and his colleagues "stumbled onto the connection," Tontonoz's article claims, after using "zebrafish as a model system for studying skin cancer" because those "small freshwater fish get melanomas that are very similar to human melanomas" and because it's easy to see where the fish's cancer cells go as tumors progress since the creatures are transparent.
Ultimately, of course, the researchers examined the connection in human beings by looking at tumor samples from people with melanoma who were treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Details of the findings were published in the journal "Cancer Discovery."
Details about other research can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.