Persistent organic pollutants and obesity: are they potential mechanisms for breast cancer promotion?

    1. Jodie M Fleming
    1. Department of Biology, North Carolina Central University, MTSC Room 2247, 1801 Fayetteville Street, Durham, North Carolina 27707, USA
      1National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Center for Cancer Training, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA
      2Department of Biology, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina 27707, USA
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to J M Fleming; Email: Jodie.fleming{at}


    Dietary ingestion of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is correlated with the development of obesity. Obesity alters metabolism, induces an inflammatory tissue microenvironment, and is also linked to diabetes and breast cancer risk/promotion of the disease. However, no direct evidence exists with regard to the correlation among all three of these factors (POPs, obesity, and breast cancer). Herein, we present results from current correlative studies indicating a causal link between POP exposure through diet and their bioaccumulation in adipose tissue that promotes the development of obesity and ultimately influences breast cancer development and/or progression. Furthermore, as endocrine disruptors, POPs could interfere with hormonally responsive tissue functions causing dysregulation of hormone signaling and cell function. This review highlights the critical need for advanced in vitro and in vivo model systems to elucidate the complex relationship among obesity, POPs, and breast cancer, and, more importantly, to delineate their multifaceted molecular, cellular, and biochemical mechanisms. Comprehensive in vitro and in vivo studies directly testing the observed correlations as well as detailing their molecular mechanisms are vital to cancer research and, ultimately, public health.

    • Revision received 20 January 2015
    • Accepted 26 January 2015
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 26 January 2015
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