Nutrition Frontiers - Fall 2018

Volume 9, Issue 4

Date Posted: 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Dear Nutrition Enthusiast,

This issue celebrates October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and showcases breast cancer research, including modifiable diet quality, prevention of breast cancer induced osteolytic bone resorption, and a novel mechanism for the obesity-breast cancer link. Meet our spotlight investigator, Dr. Bing Li, and his research on obesity-associated chronic inflammation and breast cancer development. Learn about Brussels sprouts, Brussels’ favorite brassica, upcoming announcements and more.


Diet, Inflammation, and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors

Image of a woman eating healthy foods.Modifiable lifestyle factors, such as diet, may decrease inflammation and improve quality of life (QOL) in early-stage breast cancer patients.  Orchard and colleagues investigated diet quality and its association with inflammatory markers, QOL and health/disability status in a cross-sectional secondary analysis of Caucasian postmenopausal women with stage I to III endocrine receptor-positive breast cancer who were beginning adjuvant Aromatase Inhibitor (AI) treatment. They found a higher Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) score was strongly associated with lower levels of serum proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α receptor-2 (TNFR-2).  However, after adjustment for body mass index (BMI), this inverse correlation between HEI-2010 and IL-6 and TNFR-2 weakened, except in women with previous chemotherapy experience, where associations remained strong.  Diet quality was not significantly associated with disability or functional status.  Further studies investigating the relationship of BMI and the effects of diet quality on systemic inflammation in women with breast cancer are needed to assess diet’s role in managing inflammation, QOL and treatment side effects.


The John Milner Nutrition and Cancer Prevention Research Practicum, which will be held March 11-15, 2019 is now accepting applications. Deadline to submit application is November 30th.

Stars in Nutrition and Cancer lecture, Weight Control and Exercise for Breast Cancer Prevention by Dr. Anne McTiernan available for viewing here.

The 3rd annual training workshop for early career investigators, Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer, will be held June 16-21, 2019 at Water’s Edge Resort, Westbrook, CT. Notification of Intent to Apply is December 15, 2018 and applications are due January 14, 2019. For more details and to apply, visit TREC Training Workshop < Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC) Training Workshop.

Upcoming Events

November 7-9, 2018
Personalized Nutrition 2018: Translate the Science of Nutrigenomics into Practice
American College of Nutrition
Seattle, WA

November 11-15, 2018
Obesity Week 2018
Nashville, TN

November 16, 2018
Current and Emerging Knowledge and Research on Non-Nutritive Sweeteners
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division.


Prevention of Breast Cancer-Induced Osteolytic Bone Resorption by Isothiocyanates

Image of different colored cauliflower.Bisphosphonates, which can have poor oral bioavailability, are the standard of care, along with monoclonal antibodies, for reducing the incidence of skeletal complications in patients with bone metastasis. Orally bioavailable and non-toxic inhibitors of breast cancer-induced osteoclast differentiation are clinically needed. A compound in cruciferous vegetables, benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC), decreases the incidence of breast cancer in preclinical transgenic mouse models. Here, Pore and colleagues provide evidence for inhibition of breast cancer-induced osteolytic bone resorption by BITC. In vitro, BITC inhibited osteoclast differentiation induced by co-culture of osteoclast precursor cells (RAW264.7) and breast cancer cells representative of different subtypes. This was accompanied by downregulation of key mediators of osteoclast differentiation, including receptor activator of nuclear factor-κβ ligand and runt-related transcription factor 2. In mice, oral BITC administration inhibited injected MDA-MB-231-cell-induced skeletal metastasis multiplicity by ~81% when compared with control. Further research is needed to elucidate whether oral administration of BITC may prevent cancer-induced osteolytic bone resorption.

A Novel Mechanism for the Obesity-Breast Cancer Link

Image of an outstretched hand holding a pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness.Obesity increases the risk of ER+ breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Breast aromatase is increased as a function of body mass index (BMI) and menopausal status. Zahid and colleagues investigated whether stimulation of aromatase by obesity-associated adipokine leptin involves the regulation of the p53-hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF1α)/pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2)-aromatase axis. In human breast adipose stromal cells (ASCs), leptin-mediated induction of aromatase was dependent on PKC/MAPK signaling and the suppression of p53. This was associated with an increase in Aha 1 protein expression, activation of Hsp90 and the stabilization of HIF1α and PKM2, known stimulators of aromatase expression. In breast tissue sections, ASC-specific immunoreactivity for p53 was inversely associated with BMI, while HIF1α, PKM2 and aromatases were positively correlated. In mammary tissue of mice, high-fat feeding was associated with lower p53 ASC-specific immunoreactivity compared with low-fat feeding, while immunoreactivity for HIF1α, PKM2 and aromatase were significantly higher. This study demonstrates that the observed obesity-associated increases in aromatase may be due to the increased in situ expression of aromatase in ASCs.


Portrait of Bing Li, Ph.D.Bing Li, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Immunology at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, where he works on how nutrition, particularly high fat diets with different fatty acid components, impacts immune cell differentiation and function in chronic inflammation and cancer development. More specifically, his laboratory has been investigating the molecular mechanisms by which the family of fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) regulates immune cell metabolism and function in obesity-associated chronic inflammation and breast cancer development. His group has discovered that adipose FABP serves as a new molecular link underlying obesity-associated breast cancer development. A major focus of his studies has been the determination of the role of epidermal FABP in prevention of breast cancer development by enhancing anti-tumor immune responses, which was awarded an R01, Prevention of Breast Cancer Development by Epidermal Fatty Acid Binding Protein.

Read more about Bing Li

Did You Know?  Brussels’ Favorite Brassica Goes Global

Image of brussel sprouts.Brussels sprouts, originally cultivated in 16th century Belgium, is a star member of the cruciferous family.  These prized lush green buds, resembling mini cabbages, grow on thick, fibrous stalks in the cool of fall and winter. The delightful nutty and flavorful taste when roasted, sautéed or steamed to perfection can, when overcooked, produce a dislikable smell and bitter taste with the release of the sulfur compound, glucosinolate sinigrin.

This globally popular hearty vegetable is low in calories, and an excellent source of vitamins A, K, C, B6, and folate, and is chockfull of potassium and manganese. Brussels sprouts, along with other cruciferous vegetables, are a powerhouse of isothiocyanates, particularly indole-3-carbinol, which has been widely studied for its anti-cancer properties.

Consider trying the beloved vegetable by plucking small firm buds, free of any discoloring, from the stalk. To maximize nutrient bioavailability, roast them and top off with Parmesan cheese, balsamic or apple cider vinegar, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts or even a hint of maple syrup. When cooked properly, Brussels sprouts won’t disappoint the palette or the body!