According to a study, being obese or having a higher body mass index (BMI) while carrying a BRCA mutation is positively linked with higher levels of damage to the DNA in normal breast gland cells.
"These data show for the first time that obesity is associated with increased DNA damage in breast epithelium of BRCA mutation carriers," wrote lead study author Priya Bhardwaj and colleagues in their abstract.
Bhardwaj and her colleagues analysed archival breast tissue from 82 BRCA mutation carriers. Using immunofluorescence to stain the gamma-H2AX foci, which occur as a result of DNA damage, they examined the normal breast epithelium for DNA damage.
The researchers counted the number of gamma-H2AX foci and found a significant positive link between BMI and the number of gamma-H2AX foci in the tissue.
Obesity was positively associated with DNA damage in the breast epithelial cells of individuals whether or not they were BRCA mutation carriers, but the stronger effect was seen in the tissue of those who were BRCA mutation carriers.
"Women who carry a mutation in BRCA genes have an increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer", said Kristy A. Brown, Ph.D., study principal investigator. "Obesity is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer in the general population and some studies suggest that maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising or avoiding obesity may decrease the likelihood of developing cancer in BRCA mutation carriers."
"This research provides biological evidence for cells of the breast being susceptible to the effects of obesity," she noted. "Maintaining a healthy weight may be associated with a decreased likelihood of developing breast cancer by limiting the amount of DNA damage in the breast glands."
The findings from the study were presented at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago.(ANI)