Impact of obesity on development and progression of mammary tumors in preclinical models of breast cancer

Margot P. Cleary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Overweight and/or obesity are known risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer. More recently increased body weight has also been associated with poor prognosis for premenopausal breast cancer. This relationship has primarily been identified through epidemiological studies. Additional information from in vitro studies has also been produced in attempts to delineate mechanisms of action for the association of obesity and body weight and breast cancer. This approach has identified potential growth factors such as insulin, leptin, estrogen and IGF-I which are reported to be modulated by body weight changes. However, in vitro studies are limited in scope and frequently use non-physiological concentrations of growth factors, while long follow-up is needed for human studies. Preclinical animal models provide an intermediary approach to investigate the impact of body weight and potential growth factors on mammary/breast tumor development and progression. Here results of a number of studies addressing this issue are presented. In the majority of the studies either genetically-obese or diet-induced obese rodent models have been used to investigate spontaneous, transgenic and carcinogen-induced mammary tumor development. To study tumor progression the major focus has been allograft studies in mice with either genetic or dietary-induced obesity. In general, obesity has been demonstrated to shorten mammary tumor latency and to impact tumor pathology. However, in rodents with defects in leptin and other growth factors the impact of obesity is not as straightforward. Future studies using more physiologically relevant obesity models and clearly distinguishing diet composition from body weight effects will be important in continuing to understand the factors associated with body weight's impact on mammary/breast cancer development and progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-343
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of mammary gland biology and neoplasia
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Animal models
  • Aromatase
  • Breast cancer
  • High fat diets
  • Leptin
  • Mammary tumors
  • Mice
  • Obesity
  • Obesity-prone
  • Overweight
  • Rats


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