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Studying a hormone that could drive obesity in postmenopausal women

breast cancer
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

For women approaching menopause, several changes commence to occur. Probably the most common can be an upsurge in obesity, which, subsequently, raises the chance for breast cancer after menopause.

That much is well known. What science hasn’t quite determined yet may be the bodily mechanism that triggers this , also referred to as adiposity, to build up through the menopause transition.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo and the University of Arizona have teamed up to discover. The project is homing in on the role follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) plays during menopause and how it plays a part in the development of postmenopausal obesity and breast cancer. It’s the largest study of its kind in .

“Our hypothesis is that follicle stimulating hormone is driving , and the weight gain escalates the threat of breast cancer,” says Heather Ochs-Balcom, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and in UB’s School of Public Health insurance and Health Professions and a principal investigator on the analysis with Jennifer W. Bea, Ph.D., at the University of Arizona Cancer Center. Jean Wactawski-Wende, Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Professor and dean of UB’s School of Public Health insurance and Health Professions, is really a co-investigator.

A hormone released by the , FSH plays a significant role in female development and reproduction by stimulating growth of the ovarian follicle before ovulation, Ochs-Balcom explains.

“Interestingly, later in life, in the years before menopause and prior to the drop in estrogen occurs, FSH levels begin to rise,” she said. “It really is during this time period that women notice changes within their body, such as for example abdominal obesity. Previously, the drop in estrogen has been blamed, but there might be an unbiased, or separate, role for FSH.”

Ochs-Balcom and Bea became thinking about investigating the role of FSH after seeing the outcomes of a report that showed that blocking follicle stimulating hormone can reduce obesity in mice.

“We have been excited to observe how this work means humans, and extending it further to add breast cancer since we realize that obesity increases postmenopausal breast cancer risk,” said Ochs-Balcom, a specialist on genetic and environmental risk factors for .

The analysis will leverage the massive amount data compiled through the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term national health study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that continues to yield important contributions to scientists’ knowledge of the significant reasons of death, disability and frailty in older women.

The researchers will study from samples stored in a WHI biobank, along with detailed measures of abdominal obesity in the years before was diagnosed.

“We is thrilled in order to shed light onto this largely ignored hormone in this critical section of a woman’s life,” says Ochs-Balcom.

The existing study also builds on preliminary work led by Ochs-Balcom and funded by the brand new York State Peter T. Rowley program. UB epidemiology Ph.D. student Lindsey Mattick received a fellowship from the National Institutes of Health to research FSH and bone mineral density.

“Hopefully our work might help us realize why women develop abdominal obesity and in the long run, preventing it,” Ochs-Balcom said. “Preventing obesity may be the ultimate goal and could subsequently prevent coronary disease, diabetes, along with other obesity-related cancers.”

Citation: Studying a hormone that could drive obesity in postmenopausal women (2022, August 10) retrieved 10 August 2022 from

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