A HIGH-fat diet can make breast cancer grow faster, according to a study.
Researchers said the cancer cells suck in fat from the blood — and dubbed it a “free lunch” for the tumour.
Scientists knew obesity could increase the risk and worsen the outcome of breast cancer, but did not know how.
The team from New Hampshire, US, hope their discovery will lead to ways of slowing down the growth of the cancer.
The researchers also found that breast cancer cells can take up large amounts of fat derived from lipid-rich particles found in the bloodstream.
Published in the Journal of Lipid Research, the study suggested that cancer could be immune to medicines created to stop it producing its own fat to grow.
The newly discovered characteristic means it can simply take it from the blood.
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Research leader William Kinlaw, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth, said: "The mechanism that we have elucidated provides a direct connection between dietary fat and tumour biology.
"Our new work demonstrates that breast cancer cells can engulf large amounts of preformed fat from the blood using an unexpected mechanism of fat particle uptake called 'endocytosis of lipoproteins'.
"The uptake results in metabolic reprogramming of the cells to take advantage of this 'free lunch' and reveals a direct connection between dietary fat and cancer cell biology."
How to check for breast cancer
Step one: Begin by looking in a mirror, facing it with your arms on your hips and your shoulders straight. You should be looking for any dimpling, puckering, bulging skin, redness, soreness, a rash or changes in the nipple.
Step two: Still looking in the mirror, raise both arms above your head and check for the same changes.
Step three : With your arms still above your head, check for any fluid coming from the nipples. This can include milky, yellow or watery fluid, or blood.
Step four: While lying down use your opposite hand to check each breast. Using a few fingers, keeping them flat and together, go in a small circular motion around your breasts. Make sure you feel the entire breast by going top to bottom in these small circles. It helps to develop a system or pattern to make sure every inch is covered. Use light pressure for the skin and tissue just beneath, medium pressure for the tissue in the middle of your breasts, and firm pressure to feel the tissue at the back, feeling down to your ribcage.
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