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Obesity increases breast cancer risk - Mother's Day Classic funds NBCF research to understand the link

Posted by Samantha Devlin on 20 April 2016

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New National Breast Cancer Research Foundation (NBCF) research funded by the Women in Super Mother's Day Classic seeks to understand the link between obesity and breast cancer.

This new research, made possible by participants and fundraisers at the 2015 event, follows recent findings identifying that being overweight increases a person's risk of developing hormone receptor - positive breast cancer after menopause.

Dr Kristy Brown and her team at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne are investigating treatment possibilities that involve the appetite-stimulating enzyme produced by the gut, called ghrelin. This enzyme has the potential to stop the body producing estorgen, therefore starving the tumour and stopping it in its tracks.

Dr Brown explains, "Estrogen, in addition to being produced by the ovaries, is also produced by fat cells, and the majority of obesity-related breast cancers are estrogen-dependent.

"We are investigating the possible interaction between breast inflammation, the metabolism of cells within the breast and the production of estrogen that drive tumour growth. This will help us with identifying new therapy options for the effective treatment and prevention of breast cancer."

Mother's Day Classic to fund 5 key NBCF projects thanks to 2015 fundraising.

Funds raised from last year's event have now been allocated to five national research projects, including Dr Brown's study, that aim to improve health benefits for those affected by breast cancer as well as other cancers. 

Research projects to receive Mother's Day Classic funding via NBCF include Professor Des Richardson and his team at the University of Sydney who have recently developed a strategy that involves hijacking a tumour cell's drug-resistance machinery to trick and kill drug-resistant cancer cells.

Professor Richardson's study will develop and test the chemical make-up of a new drug that is designed to overcome tumour resistance by killing the resistant protein in the tumour. This testing will ensure it is effective in treating advanced breast cancer.

Despite advances in breast cancer survival, the disease remains the most common life-threatening cancer facing Australian women. NBCF CEO Dr Sarah Hosking says research is the only way to stop breast cancer deaths.

"The research we are funding is very promising. Dr Brown's program, in addition to investigating the link between obesity and breast cancer, is also looking at ways of blocking cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, providing hope for women who currently have limited treatment options," Dr Hosking said.

"Through research we can identify prevention methods, improve earlier diagnosis and develop successful treatments. This can only be achieved with your help.

"We are honoured to continue our strong relationship with Women in Super Mother's Day Classic. Each Mother's Day we get closer to our goal of zero deaths by 2030 when Australians put on their runners and help save lives," Dr Hosking said.

Mother's Day Classic has set a fundraising target of $4 million this year to support researchers, like Dr Brown and Professor Richardson, whose ultimate aim is to reduce deaths from breast cancer.

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