Researchers link high-fat diet to cancer development

A new study showed a direct correlation between the amount of fat in one’s diet and the levels of nitric oxide in their body, a signaling molecule linked to cancer development.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology and published in the journal ACS Central Science. According to the study’s researchers, evidence suggests that nitric acid is related to inflammation which can lead to the development of cancer. For this investigation, scientists set out to find whether a high-fat diet is connected to nitric oxide levels. To do so, researchers developed a molecular probe that used bioluminescence imaging. The probe was then used to compare nitric oxide levels between breast-cancer-carrying mice on a low-fat and high-fat diet.

“As a result of the high-fat diet, we saw an increase in nitric oxide in the tumor microenvironment,” said Michael Lee, a student researcher in the Chan lab and co-author of the study. “The implication of this is that the tumor microenvironment is a very complex system, and we really need to understand it to understand how cancer progression works. A lot of factors can go into this from diet to exercise — external factors that we don’t really take into account that we should when we consider cancer treatments.”

According to researchers, these findings, which show a direct-link between a high-fat diet, nitric oxide levels, and cancer development, has important implications for cancer research. Future studies should further investigate the mechanisms behind the development of cancer as well as the effects of a low-fat diet on cancer diagnosis and treatment, according to researchers.