Molecular links between obesity and breast cancer

    1. S Sukumar1,2
    1. 1Breast Cancer Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, 1650 Orleans Street, Room 410 CRB, Baltimore, MD 21231-1000, USA
    2. 2Graduate Program in Pathobiology, Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA
    1. (Requests for offprints should be addressed to S Sukumar at first address; Email: saras{at}


    Breast cancer continues to be a major health problem for women in the USA and worldwide. There is a need to identify and take steps to alter modifiable breast cancer risks. Conditions of obesity and overweight are risk factors that have reached epidemic proportions. This article reviews the evidence in the literature that test mechanism-based hypotheses which attempt to provide a molecular basis for a causal link between obesity and breast cancer risk, particularly the effects of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, peripheral estrogen aromatization in adipose tissue, and direct effect of adipokines. Future areas for study and implications for therapy are discussed.

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