In recent years, obesity has been identified as a risk factor for the development of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and it has been associated with a poor outcome. Many factors appear to be important in the mechanism of this increased risk, including estrogen, estrogen receptors, and the adipokines leptin and adiponectin. Estrogen, a potent mitogen for mammary cells, has long been implicated in the development of mammary tumors. Because adipose-associated aromatase activity increases the conversion of androgen to estrogen, mammary adipose tissue is thought to be an important source of local estrogen production. Leptin, which increases in the circulation in proportion to body fat stores, has been demonstrated in vitro to promote breast cancer cell growth. Animal models have also identified leptin as an important factor for the development of mammary tumors. In contrast to leptin, serum adiponectin concentrations are inversely related to body fat stores, and the addition of adiponectin to human breast cancer cells reduces cell proliferation and enhances apoptosis. This review explores the relationship between these factors and the development of mammary cancer in humans and mouse models.
- Breast cancer