Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have found that chronic low-level inflammation causes increased breast density, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.
The findings could lead to new treatments for breast density, and the prevention of breast cancer by reducing inflammation.
"We induced a low level of chronic inflammation in our lab models and found it was a particular protein called CCL2 that caused the increase in inflammation," Associate Professor Wendy Ingman, The Hospital Research Foundation's Breast Cancer Research Fellow from the University of Adelaide and lead author of the study, said in a press release.
"This led to an increase in the density in the tissue and also an increased risk of breast cancer. While it is already known that certain types of anti-inflammatories [such as aspirin] can reduce breast cancer risk, they are associated with longer term side-effects and not recommended for women to help reduce their breast cancer risk."
Roughly 8 percent of women have extremely high breast density and therefore, are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.
"With this research we believe we may be able to identify the women most at risk of inflammation-associated breast cancer through measuring their breast density and therefore identify those who will most benefit from anti-inflammatory treatment," Ingman said. "Our ultimate aim is to save women's lives and our breast density research is helping us learn more about what drives this area of breast cancer risk to help inform preventative treatments."
The study was published in Breast Cancer Research.