Cedars-Sinai investigators have received $9.1 million by the National Cancer Institute to study how fat can promote cancer’s spread to the liver the medical center announced recently. The Southern California-based research team will zero in on the interplay between dietary fat and fatty liver disease—commonly associated with obesity—and the mechanisms that augment cancer’s spread—or metastasize—to the liver.
Next to the lymph nodes the liver is where cancer spreads the most. In fact, a majority of patients that die of pancreatic, colon or prostate cancer develop liver metastases at the time of death reports Dr. Neil Bhowmich, director of the Cancer Biology Program at Cedars-Sinai and co-lead investigator. The worst outcomes involve when a prostate cancer metastasis to the liver, a rare event, has the deadliest outcome.
The liver’s primary function is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, detoxify chemicals, metabolize drugs and excrete bile—and it plays a role in other cancers. In fact, Dr. Shelly Lu, director of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases and co-lead investigator notes “There is already evidence that having fat in the liver promotes primary cancer there.
Dr. Lu, Dr. Bhowmich, and others will study how signaling, or ‘crosstalk’ between the liver and cancer in a distant organ change the liver environment supporting metastases. For example, as high-fat diets become ubiquitous, it could be that the liver sends a signal to cancer cells in the prostate gland that declares “This is a great place to live,” declares Bhowmick.
The investigators will study this “cross talk in three cancer types,” reports Bhowmick referring to cancers of the pancreas, colon and prostate. The five-year study represents a timely grant. Why? Well, obesity represents a major health crisis, at least to some—over 71% of U.S. adults 20 and older are overweight or obese. About 90% of obese people have a fatty liver. These are staggering figures with ominous implications for Americans; personal health, population health and the economic impact.
Dr. Neil Bhowmich, director of the Cancer Biology Program at Cedars-Sinai and co-lead investigator
Dr. Shelly Lu, director of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases and co-lead investigator
Call to Action: TrialSite News is cautioning the public to see physician about rational ways to address overweight and obesity conditions. The obesity crisis has moved into epidemic levels.