Obesity, inflammation, estrogen and breast cancer

Lead researcher

Mrs. Heba Zahid

Main finding

Obesity is associated with low grade chronic inflammation in the breast tissue. Inflammation stimulates aromatase, rate limiting enzyme in estrogen biosynthesis. In estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, estrogen stimulates the growth of tumor cells. With a higher prevalence of obesity, it is expected that the incidence of breast cancer will increase as the population ages. Targeting breast adipose tissue inflammation and the local production of estrogen by lifestyle or therapeutics interventions such as diet, exercise and antidiabetic drugs could prevent obesity-related breast cancers.


Centre for Cancer Research

Research group

Metabolism and Cancer


Prof Evan Simpson
Dr. Kristy Brown

Journal and article title

Most surprising

Diet alone or in combination with exercise was able not only to reduce weight but also to reduce estrogen and other inflammatory factors in the body leading to reduction in breast cancer risk, relapse and mortality.

Future implications

Lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise, are associated with reduction in adipose tissue inflammation and estrogen production that are likely to reduce breast cancer risk.

Disease/health impact

Obesity and Breast Cancer