As obesity rates have increased in the developed world, instances of older women with breast cancer in these countries have also intensified.
Hudson Institute cancer researcher, Dr Kristy Brown, wants to better understand these links, and attempt to break them down through the use of new therapies.
Dr Brown is the recipient of a National Breast Cancer Foundation Career Development Fellowship, worth $680,000, aimed at supporting outstanding new investigators and expanding the scale and scope of breast cancer research in Australia.
“My research aims to understand why obese older women are at higher risk of developing breast cancer,” Dr Brown said.
“Obese women who develop breast cancer are also less responsive to treatment and more likely to die from their disease.”
The NBCF fellowship will fund Dr Brown’s project, Obesity and Breast Cancer: linking metabolic pathways, estrogen and cancer progression, over the next four years.
Her research investigates the role of obesity factors and some hormones produced by the stomach in increased incidence of oestrogen-dependent breast cancer.
“I have found a new molecular link between obesity and breast cancer, and I am currently involved in conducting studies to see if new drugs that target this link are beneficial in treating breast cancer,” she said.
The project funded by the NBCF will further probe these links to try to find better ways of preventing and treating breast cancer, with fewer side-effects, and reduce breast cancer-associated mortality.
“My research will further our understanding of the obesity-breast cancer link and will explore new therapies aimed at breaking the linkage,” Dr Brown said.
Through her work at the Hudson Institute, Dr Brown hopes to help the NBCF achieve its goal of “zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030″.