The impact of poor metabolic health on aggressive breast cancer: adipose tissue and tumor metabolism

Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2023 Sep 20:14:1217875. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2023.1217875. eCollection 2023.


Obesity and type 2 diabetes are chronic metabolic diseases that impact tens to hundreds of millions of adults, especially in developed countries. Each condition is associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer and with a poor prognosis after treatment. The mechanisms connecting poor metabolic health to breast cancer are numerous and include hyperinsulinemia, inflammation, excess nutrient availability, and adipose tissue dysfunction. Here, we focus on adipose tissue, highlighting important roles for both adipocytes and fibroblasts in breast cancer progression. One potentially important mediator of adipose tissue effects on breast cancer is the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) signaling network. Among the many roles of FGFR signaling, we postulate that key mechanisms driving aggressive breast cancer include epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and cellular metabolic reprogramming. We also pose existing questions that may help better understand breast cancer biology in people with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and poor metabolic health.

Keywords: adipose; breast cancer; diabetes; fibroblast growth factor; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / metabolism