TUESDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic cadmium exposure is associated with increased ability of breast cancer cells to migrate and invade through the extracellular matrix, as well as with increased expression of proteins associated with tumor invasion and metastasis, according to a study presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting, held from April 21 to 25 in San Diego.
Noting that cadmium has been shown to increase the aggressive phenotype of mammary epithelial cells and to induce malignant transformation, Esmeralda M. Ponce, from the Dominican University of California in San Rafael, and colleagues investigated the impact of chronic cadmium exposure on breast cancer progression.
The researchers found that cadmium exposure was associated with an increase in the ability of MCF-7 cells to migrate and invade through the extracellular matrix. Higher levels of expression of SDF-1 (a protein associated with tumor invasion and metastasis) were seen in MCF-7 cells that were chronically exposed to cadmium. Significantly higher activity of matrix metalloproteinase-9 was seen in MCF-7 cells that were chronically exposed to cadmium.
"Understanding the role that cadmium plays in the progression of breast cancer is extremely important in order to find better ways to prevent the disease from advancing. Ninety percent of cancer deaths are associated with the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. If we can prevent the tumor from spreading, we have a better chance of treating cancer," a study coauthor said in a statement.
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