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Clinical Research

Aromatase activity in adipose tissue from breast quadrants: a link with tumour site

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 12 March 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:741
  1. John S O'Neill,
  2. Robert A Elton,
  3. William R Miller


    To determine the importance of local oestrogen biosynthesis within the breast, aromatase activity was measured in adipose tissue from the breast quadrants of 12 consecutive mastectomies from patients with breast cancer. Activity was detected in all samples (range 3·6-35·0 fmol oestrogen/mg protein/h) but varied considerably not only among different patients but also among the quadrants of individual breasts. The highest activity in a breast was always found in a quadrant that contained tumour, whereas quadrants with the lowest activity were never associated with the presence of tumour.

    These results provide evidence of a significant relation between breast adipose tissue and breast cancer. Whether such an association occurs because breast tumours are more likely to develop in areas with enhanced oestrogen biosynthesis or because they secrete into their local environment factors capable of stimulating oestrogen biosynthesis remains to be determined.

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