October 10, 2006
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
Participants in Children's Diet Study Asked to Return for Another Visit
UMDNJ Researcher Tracking the Link Between Adolescent Diet and Breast Cancer
NEWARK—Women between the ages of 25 and 29, who were part of a cholesterol research study in the 1990s are being sought by researchers around the country, including the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, to continue research started when the women were in grade-school. The earlier study looked at how modifying the dietary fat intake of the girls, beginning when they were as young as eight years old, affected sex hormone levels. The research then and now focuses on establishing what link, if any, exists between the diets of adolescent girls and their future risk of breast cancer.
The studies originated as an ancillary study to the multi-center Dietary Intervention Study on Children (DISC) study, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and by the National Cancer Institute to study the safety and efficacy of a cholesterol-lowering intervention in children. The new multi-center research effort is funded by a $4.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute and will evaluate the long-term effects of dietary fat intake during adolescence on breast cancer markers such as hormone levels in the blood, bone mineral density and breast density in adult women. Dr. Norman L. Lasser, a preventive cardiologist at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School in Newark, was the principal investigator of the Newark DISC center and is the principal investigator of the current study.
"Results of the ancillary study, published in January 2003 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that girls who ate a higher fat diet during puberty had increased levels of sex hormones that can influence the rate of maturation," said Dr. Lasser who is also the principal investigator of the Women's Health Initiative, a 17-year study looking at health problems in postmenopausal women. "Other studies have shown that increased levels of sex hormones can influence the rate of maturation. Early maturation as a girl and elevated serum sex hormone levels as an adult increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer."
Dr. Lasser said that women participating in the new study will be asked to have a breast MRI to measure breast density and a DXA scan to measure bone density and body composition. More than 300 women are being sought by researchers involved in the nationwide study.
"Although we do not know if lower hormone levels during adolescence will influence breast cancer risk in adulthood, adolescence is a time of rapid growth and maturation of the breasts," Dr. Lasser explained. "Estrogens and progesterone contribute to the regulation of this process. By continuing to monitor these women, we hope to gain new insights about dietary impact. Our earlier research suggests that maintaining a good diet from childhood may be critical to preventing cancer."
Women who were participants in the original DISC study are asked to call Dr. Lasser's office at (973) 972-6107, if they are interested in becoming involved in the new research.
To request an interview with Dr. Lasser, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or at (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.