Obesity increases the incidence of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary tumors in an ovariectomized Zucker rat model

Reza Hakkak, Stewart MacLeod, Saeid Shaaf, Andy W. Holley, Pippa Simpson, George Fuchs, Chan Hee Jo, Thomas Kieber-Emmons, Soheila Korourian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Obesity is associated with increased risk for post-menopausal, but not premenopausal breast cancer. Recently, we reported that intact obese Zucker rats had increased susceptibility to DMBA-induced mammary tumors compared to lean Zucker rats. In the present study, we investigated whether excessive adipose tissue would promote mammary tumor induction in the absence of ovarian estrogen. Lean and obese rats were sham-operated or ovariectomized at 40 days old and were gavaged at 50 days old with 65 mg/kg DMBA. Rats were weighed and palpated twice weekly for detection of mammary tumors and sacrificed 135 days post-DMBA treatment. Obese sham-operated (O/S) rats had a shorter latency period (102 days) compared to lean sham-operated (L/S) (134 days) and obese ovariectomized (O/O) rats (123 days). At the end of the experiment, 36% of the O/O rats developed mammary tumors while lean ovariectomized (L/O) rats developed no mammary tumors (P<0.001), and 59% of the O/S rats developed mammary tumors compared to 30% of the L/S rats (P<0.05). In summary, obesity increases the susceptibility of ovariectomized Zucker rats to DMBA-induced mammary tumors, suggesting that adipose tissue-derived estrogen in obese animals may be sufficient to promote DMBA-induced tumors in this model. These results suggest that obesity in postmenopausal women may increase breast cancer risk due to increased breast tissue exposure to adipose tissue-derived estrogen. In conclusion, we have developed an animal model to further investigate the role of obesity in breast cancer development in postmenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-563
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • DMBA-induced mammary tumors
  • Obesity
  • Zucker rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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