New animal study may explain why alcohol consumption increases breast cancer risk

Apr 29, 2007

For the first time, scientists have used a laboratory mouse model to mimic the development of human alcohol-induced breast cancer.

The results are part of a new study, Chronic Alcohol Consumption Increases Tumor Growth and Amgiogenesis of Breast Cancer in Female Mice, conducted by Brandi Busby, Wei Tan, Jordan Covington, Emily Young, and Jian-Wei Gu, all of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS. Dr. Gu will present the team's findings in detail during the American Physiological Society annual meeting, which is being held as part of the Experimental Biology meeting.

Alcohol (EtOH) consumption -- even moderate -- is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer in women. A recent study showed that 60 percent of female breast cancers worldwide were attributable to alcohol consumption. Nevertheless, the mechanisms of alcohol-induced breast cancer are poorly understood.

The definitive biological effects and molecular mechanisms of EtOH on progression and malignancy of breast cancer have not been investigated using a mammalian breast cancer model that mimics the human disease. Scientists have suggested that the possible mechanisms involved include the agitation of estrogen metabolism and response; cell mutation by the EtOH metabolite acetaldehyde; oxidative damage; and one-carbon metabolism pathways through reduced folic acid.

To date, there has not been an animal model that faithfully mimics the human disease with respect to characteristics of breast cancer, immunocompetence, and physiologically relevant EtOH intake. The researchers addressed and overcame the obstacles and developed a novel mouse breast cancer model. The model mimics human breast cancer disease in which the estrogen receptor-positive breast adenocarcinoma cells were subcutaneously injected near the pad of the fourth mammary gland of female immunocompetant mice (C57BL/6). The six-week-old female mice were fed with moderate EtOH (one percent in drinking water) for four weeks, the equivalent of two drinks per day in humans. The control mice received regular drinking water only.

In the second week of the experiment, mouse breast cancer cells (5x105 E0771) were injected at cite referenced above. At the end of the experiment, the tumors were isolated to measure tumor size, examine intratumoral microvessel (IM) density via CD 31 immunohistochemistry staining, and assessing VEGF protein levels via ELISA. These steps were taken to determine the effects of EtOH intake in physiologically relevant doses on tumor growth and angiogenesis in mouse breast cancer.

The researchers found:

-- that moderate alcohol consumption significantly increased the tumor size of breast cancer in mice, which was a 1.96-fold increase in tumor weight vs. control mice;

-- that alcohol intake caused a 1.28-fold increase in tumor microvessel density vs. the control group;

-- a significant increase in tissue protein levels of VEGF were found in the tumors of the mice treated with EtOH vs. control group;

-- EtOH intake did not cause significant changes in the body weight of the mice.

This study presents the first animal model to confirm that alcohol consumption stimulates tumor growth and malignancy of breast cancer, and reveals some of the mechanisms of alcohol-induced breast cancer. The findings demonstrate that even moderate alcohol consumption significantly stimulates tumor growth of breast cancer and that induction of tumor angiogenesis and VEGF expressions are mechanisms which are associated with the progression of this deadly disease.

Source: American Physiological Society

Explore further: Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Iliad founder says T-Mobile offer is 'real'

8 hours ago

French telecom upstart Iliad's founder said Friday that the company's offer for US-based T-Mobile is "real" and that he is open to working with partners on a deal.

Law changed to allow 'unlocking' cellphones

8 hours ago

President Barack Obama signed a bill into law on Friday making it legal once again to unlock a cellphone without permission from a wireless provider, so long as the service contract has expired.

Social network challenges end in tragedy

8 hours ago

Online challenges daring people to set themselves ablaze or douse themselves in ice water are racking up casualties and fueling wonder regarding idiocy in the Internet age.

Microsoft sues Samsung alleging contract breach

8 hours ago

Microsoft on Friday sued Samsung in federal court claiming the South Korean giant had breached a contract over cross-license technology used in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

Recommended for you

Pepper and halt: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

10 hours ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining ...

Expressive writing may help breast cancer survivors

11 hours ago

Writing down fears, emotions and the benefits of a cancer diagnosis may improve health outcomes for Asian-American breast cancer survivors, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Houston (UH).

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

17 hours ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

18 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

19 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

User comments : 0