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A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

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Cancer Prevention and Control

Members in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program conduct a broad scope of research that encompasses basic studies of carcinogenesis, preclinical and clinical translational research, behavioral and epidemiological studies, as well as population-based genetic research. Over the past year, Program members have produced over 115 peer-reviewed publications, many in high-impact journals. Program members are highly interactive, as evidenced by 23% of publications being intraprogrammatic and 29% interprogrammatic.

Research Highlights

Study explores genetic association between type II diabetes, breast cancer
Dezheng Huo, MD, PhD, and colleagues, including Drs. Olufunmilayo Olopade, Nancy Cox, and Brandon Pierce, pooled and analyzed data from seven studies comprised of more than 2,600 breast cancer cases and more than 2,500 controls of women of European and African ancestry. They used a genetic epidemiologic method to investigate 40 known genetic susceptibility variants for type II diabetes and their relationship to breast cancer risk. No significant association was found, suggesting a nonexistent link between diabetes and the risk for breast cancer, challenging the results of previous epidemiological studies. (Hou et al., Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 21:552-6, 2012)

Dietary Fats Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Disease
New research suggests that the consumption of Western diets high in saturated fat may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease, which increases the risk for colorectal cancer. Eugene Chang, MD, and Bana Jabri, MD, PhD, and colleagues demonstrated in a genetically susceptible mouse model that a low-fat diet supplemented with saturated fat, but not polyunsaturated fat, promoted changes in bile acid composition. These changes fueled the proliferation of intestinal B. wadsworthia bacteria and resulted in the development of colitis.While B. wadsworthia is difficult to detect in healthy individuals, the microorganism flourishes during intestinal inflammatory disorders. These data provide a mechanistic basis for how changes in our diet toward higher fat content can alter the relationship between our bodies and gut microbiota, and subsequently lead to an increased risk of complex immune disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer, in genetically susceptible individuals. (Devkota et al., Nature 487:104-8, 2012)
This work was supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the NIDDK, NIGMS and NCCAM of the National Institutes of Health through grant numbers DK-42086, DK47722, UH3DK083993, and F31AT006073. Additional funding was provided by the Gastrointestinal Research Foundation, Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America, the Peter and Carol Goldman Family Research Fund, and the Harry and Leona Helmsley Trust Foundation.

Genome-wide association study finds genetic variants associated with arsenic toxicity
Arsenic contamination of drinking water is a public health issue in many countries and increases the risk for diseases including cancer. Habibul Ahsan, MBBS, MMedSc, and Brandon Pierce, PhD, conducted a genome-wide association study of arsenic-related metabolism to investigate the mechanisms by which environmental arsenic exposure influences health. Using data collected from 1,313 arsenic-exposed individuals in Bangladesh, the researchers identified multiple variants near the arsenite methyltransferase (AS3MT) gene that influence arsenic metabolism and risk for skin lesions. These results have potential implications for the prevention and treatment of arsenic-associated toxicities worldwide. (Pierce et al., PLoS Genet, Epub ahead of print, 2012)

Parents disclose genetic testing results to their children
Few studies have evaluated the understanding and response of children to early communication of hereditary cancer risk. Christopher Daugherty, MD, along with colleagues including Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MBBS, explored the process by which parents disclose the results of BRCA1/2 genetic testing to their children, as well as how their children perceive the information. Through semi-structured interviews, the researchers observed that many parents communicate their BRCA1/2 test results to their children, even at young ages, and that the majority of offspring do not find the information distressing. A better understanding of how children and adolescents respond to cancer risk information may provide opportunities to facilitate healthy behaviors throughout the life span. (Bradbury et al., Cancer 118:3417-25, 2012)
This study was supported by the American Cancer Society, Mentored Research Scholar Award (MRSG 07-014-01-CPPB). Support was also provided by NIH Grant P30 CA006927.

Naltrexone reduces post-smoking cessation weight gain in women
Andrea King, PhD, and colleagues demonstrated that naltrexone, an opioid antagonist, effectively reduces weight gain in women who quit smoking. The researchers evaluated long-term weight gain at 6- and 12-month follow-up in clinical trial participants who were randomized to naltrexone or placebo smoking cessation treatment. Weight gain was significantly lower with naltrexone compared with placebo in women. Increases in body mass index and percentage body weight gain were also lower. Although these effects were not observed in men, these findings may enable more women to quit smoking without fear of excessive weight gain. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illnesses, including lung cancer, in the United States. (King et al., Biol Psychiatry, Epub ahead of print, 2012)
The study was supported by grants R01-DA016834 and P50-DA13334 from the National Institute of Drug Abuse; grants P50AA15632, K05-AA01471, and R01-AA11197 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependence, National Institutes of Health; grant ULI-RR024999, P30-CA14599 (University of Chicago); and grant 039787 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Habibul Ahsan research cancer