Dr. Michael Lisanti and colleagues at Thomas Jefferson University found that extended lactation protects again mammary tumor development.
Women who breastfeed for greater than two years have a significantly reduced risk of developing breast cancer later in life. It has been difficult to determine the cause of this benefit, however, due to the lack of a suitable animal model of extended lactation.
In this study, Sotgia et al demonstrated that mice deficient in caveolin 3, which is expressed in some mammary cells, had a constitutive lactation phenotype. Notably, caveolin 3-deficient mice were also protected against mammary tumor formation and lung metastases. These mice, therefore, provide a model of constitutive lactation that may be used to study the prevention or treatment of human breast cancers.
Dr. Lisanti's group suggest that "a lactation-based therapeutic strategy would provide a more natural and non-toxic approach to the development of novel anti-cancer therapies. In this regard, targeted reduction of Cav-3 levels in the mammary gland may represent a new therapeutic strategy for preventing the onset of human breast cancers."
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