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A study by the Faculty of Medicine (FMUP) shows that high levels of body fat favor the growth of cancer cells associated with melanomas, making them multiply more easily and become more resistant to radiotherapy.

“Melanoma cells grow faster and die less” when they come into contact with the molecules produced by adipose tissue, states Pedro Coelho, researcher at the Faculty of Medicine of Porto (FMUP).

According to the specialist, this exposure causes melanoma cells to migrate and adhere more easily to the surface of other organs, which in the case of cancer translates into greater aggressiveness. The study also shows that molecules produced by adipocytes (cells responsible for storing fat) increase the likelihood of the tumor developing its own blood vessels, creating an alternative way for melanoma to grow and then multiply.

In this investigation, which took about four years to be completed, were used ‘in vitro’ and ‘in vivo’ models and it was also noted that high levels of body fat have a negative effect on cell renewal.

The results also demonstrate that when cancer cells are exposed to the molecules released by adipose tissue they are more resistant to treatment, as if they were “protected from the effects of radiotherapy,” states Pedro Coelho.


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