Study finds links between obesity, male breast cancer

By on June 14, 2015


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LONDON — Researchers have found a possible association between the rise in obesity and the increase in cases of male breast cancer, according to a report released Friday by the University of Leeds.

It is known for a long time that fat cells of obese men contain enzymes that convert male hormones testosterone into female hormones estrogen.

It follows logically that the more fat a man carry the more opportunity he has for estrogen production, so men with a body mass index over 25 have more female hormones in their blood, according to the study.

“We also know that more than 90 percent of male breast cancers seen in the clinic have receptors on the cell surface that recognize these female hormones and use them to grow,” said Professor Speirs, from the University of Leeds.

In addition, cholesterol can be converted into a compound that mimics the activity of estrogen. Obese men tend to have much higher cholesterol levels, so they have more of the estrogen-mimicking compound in their bodies which also encourages cancer growth, the researchers said.

It was recently reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago that obesity is set to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of cancer.

As well as raising awareness of male breast cancer, researchers said they also wish to stress that obesity is a preventable condition and men can take measures to reduce their risk of developing the disease, including eating a healthier diet.