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Arch Hellen Med, 27(4), July-August 2010, 622-634


Metabolic syndrome and carcinogenesis

1Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, "Henry Dunant" Hospital, Athens,
2Third Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Athens, "Sotiria" General Hospital of Chest Diseases, Athens, Greece

The term metabolic syndrome describes the association between obesity, insulin resistance and the risk of several prominent chronic diseases, including cancer. The causal link between many of the components of the metabolic syndrome remains unexplained. Obesity is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes, which are closely linked to the process of angiogenesis. The association of obesity with an increased risk of many forms of cancer is of great economic importance to the health sector. The regulation of normal body weight is, in part, orchestrated by the presence of leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone that acts on the brain to regulate food intake. Increasing epidemiological data in humans, and numerous in vitro investigative reports and animal studies suggest a link between leptin and cancer growth. In addition, adiponectin, an adipocyte-secreted hormone that plays an important role in diabetes and cardiovascular disease, may also be of importance in the development and progression of several types of malignancy. This review presents recent evidence supporting the emerging hypothesis that the metabolic syndrome may be an important etiological factor in the onset of cancer, highlighting the close interaction between cancer cells and adipocytes as an intriguing issue in tumor biology.

Key words: Adiponectin, Carcinogenesis, Insulin resistance, Leptin, Metabolic syndrome.

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