Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Potential Links Between Breast Density And Breast Cancer Risk

Date:
December 15, 2008
Source:
Mayo Clinic
Summary:
Having dense breasts -- areas that show up dark on a mammogram -- is strongly associated with increased breast cancer risk, but "why" remains to be answered. Now, by examining dense and non-dense tissue taken from the breasts of healthy volunteers, researchers have found several potential links.

Having dense breasts - areas that show up light on a mammogram - is strongly associated with increased breast cancer risk, but "why" remains to be answered. Now, by examining dense and non-dense tissue taken from the breasts of healthy volunteers, researchers from Mayo Clinic have found several potential links.

Related Articles


In two studies being presented simultaneously in poster form at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center-American Association for Cancer Research (CTRC-AACR) San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the researchers report that dense breast tissue contains more cells believed to give rise to breast cancer, compared to non-dense tissue. "We found a dramatic difference in tissue composition between dense and non-dense tissue in the breast," says Karthik Ghosh, M.D., a Mayo Clinic breast cancer researcher and physician who led one study.

In a second study, researchers also found that dense breast tissue has more aromatase enzyme than non-dense tissue. This is significant because aromatase helps convert androgen hormones into estrogen, and estrogen is important in breast cancer development, says that study's lead investigator, Celine Vachon, Ph.D.

"If aromatase is differentially expressed in dense and non-dense breast tissue, this could provide one mechanism by which density may increase breast cancer risk," Dr. Vachon says.

The researchers say these findings are unique because these studies are the first to examine areas of both dense and non-dense tissue taken from the same breast in healthy volunteers. Examination of healthy women is important, Dr. Ghosh says, because most prior studies of breast density have looked at tissue taken from women with known breast disease.

Sixty women, age 40 to 85, allowed Mayo Clinic researchers to take eight core-needle biopsies from their breasts; none had a history of breast cancer.

Dr. Ghosh and her team examined the biopsies to determine the percentage of epithelium tissue, stroma, and fat content in each. The epithelium is primarily composed of milk glands and ductal cells, and stroma is the connective tissue that supports epithelial cells. Dr. Vachon and her colleagues looked at aromatase expression within cells in both dense and non-dense tissue.

Results are now available from more than half of the participants who donated biopsy tissue. Dr. Ghosh found that areas of density contained much more epithelium (6 percent) and stroma (64 percent) and much less fat (30 percent), compared to non-dense tissue that contained less than 1 percent epithelium, about 20 percent stroma, and almost 80 percent fat. "This shows us that both the epithelium and stroma contribute to density, and suggests that the large difference in stroma content in dense breast tissue may play a significant role in breast cancer risk," Dr. Ghosh says.

She also looked at lobular involution, a decrease in the size and number of milk ducts that has been associated with decreased breast cancer risk, and found that 85 percent of non-dense tissue had complete involution compared to 35 percent of dense tissue.

Dr. Vachon and her team examined expression of aromatase in the biopsy samples and found that the stromal cells in dense breast tissue had more aromatase and intensity of expression in dense tissue, compared to non-dense. They say these findings may help explain why women with greater proportion of dense breast tissue are at greater risk for breast cancer than women with little or no density.

"These are initial findings from one of the first attempts to study breast density at the level of healthy tissue. It doesn't explain everything yet, but is providing really valuable insights," says Dr. Ghosh, who established the patient resource for both studies.

Drs. Ghosh and Vachon are finishing their analysis of the initial 60 volunteers, and they are also enrolling more participants in order to validate and expand their findings. "No one knows why density increases breast cancer risk, but we are attempting to connect the dots," Dr. Vachon says.

These studies were funded by the Mayo Clinic Breast Cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant, and a National Institutes of Health (NIH) career development award.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Mayo Clinic. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Mayo Clinic. "Potential Links Between Breast Density And Breast Cancer Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081213130021.htm>.
Mayo Clinic. (2008, December 15). Potential Links Between Breast Density And Breast Cancer Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081213130021.htm
Mayo Clinic. "Potential Links Between Breast Density And Breast Cancer Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081213130021.htm (accessed November 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

Ebola: Life Without School in Guinea

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Following the closure of schools and universities in Guinea because of the Ebola virus, students look for temporary work or gather in makeshift classrooms to catch up on their syllabus. Duration: 02:14 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins