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Fatty layer in the stomach increases the spread of ovarian cancer

Published on 01/11/2011

Hidden fat inside the stomach increases the spread of ovarian cancer, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

A team of scientists at the University of Chicago injected cancer cells into the abdomen of healthy mice. These cells found their way to the omentum, the fatty layer inside the abdomen, within twenty minutes.

Gynaecologist Professor Ernst Lengyel said: 'This fatty tissue, which is extraordinarily rich in energy-dense lipids, acts as a launching pad and energy source for the likely lethal spread of ovarian cancer.

'They feed the cancer cells, enabling them to multiply rapidly.'

The researchers suggest that a fat carrying protein, known as fatty acid binding protein (FABP4), could be a target for future treatment. When the action of FABP4 was blocked, the transfer of nutrients from fat cells to cancer cells was drastically reduced. It also reduced tumour growth.

Scientists believe that this process might explain tumour development in other parts of the body where fat cells are present, like breast cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease in women, and has one of the worst survival rates, since it is often diagnosed after it has spread.

Dr Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK said: 'At the moment these are still early experiments using mice and cells grown in the lab, so there is still a lot of work to be done to turn this knowledge into a treatment that could help women with ovarian cancer.'

This comes after reports that taking the pill for ten years can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by almost half (45%).

Patients with private medical insurance will often have access to cutting edge drugs and treatments not available on the NHS. To gain peace of mind about your future healthcare, compare health insurance policies online now.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011

Categories:  HealthMedical
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