Andrew Dannenberg, MD
2012-2013 BCRF Project:
(made possible by generous support from Bloomingdale's)
Director of Cancer Prevention at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell
Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine
Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York
The use of inhibitors of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes including aspirin has been associated with a reduced risk of breast and other cancers. The mechanism of the risk reduction may be disease specific and an understanding of this could inform the development of more effective prevention strategies. With respect to breast cancer, Dr. Dannenberg and his colleagues have shown that the prostaglandin products of COX enzymes stimulate the formation of aromatase, the enzyme that makes estrogen (this female hormone can drive breast cancer formation and growth). Recently, they also found important connections among obesity, breast inflammation, COX, prostaglandins and aromatase. Because widely available anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit COX enzymes and therefore may lower estrogen levels, Dr. Dannenberg's work helps to explain the observation that the risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer may be reduced among regular aspirin users. The discovery linking obesity, breast inflammation, COX and aromatase provides the basis for developing better and safer methods of preventing and treating breast cancer.
Mid-year Progress: Obesity is a risk factor for the development of hormone receptor-positive postmenopausal breast cancer and possibly triple negative breast cancer. Moreover, obesity is associated with poor outcomes for patients with breast cancer. Dr. Dannenberg and Clifford Hudis, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) were the first to show that obesity causes an inflammatory state with related molecular changes in the human breast. This finding was predicted by their preclinical studies. Dr. Dannenberg's ongoing work is focused on 1) elucidating the mechanisms (cellular, molecular) by which obesity-related breast inflammation occurs; 2) defining the inflammation-related mechanisms that drive tumor formation and progression; 3) identifying biomarkers in blood and urine that reflect obesity-related adipose tissue inflammation. He and his team are also utilizing preclinical models to attempt to develop strategies to reverse obesity-related inflammation with the ultimate goal of reducing the risk of breast cancer. Positive preclinical findings are being tested in human studies.
Dr. Dannenberg recently co-authored an editorial in the August 2012 edition ofJournal of Clinical Oncology with Chairman of BCRF's Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Clifford Hudis (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center), mentioning their research conducted with BCRF support.
Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD is the Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also Director of Cancer Prevention at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell. Dr. Dannenberg received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and served as a medical resident and fellow at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. He has authored more than 150 scientific articles, as well as edited several books and journals. In 2011, Dr. Dannenberg was awarded the American Association for Cancer Research-Prevent Cancer Foundation award for excellence in cancer prevention research. He is a member of the Association of American Physicians (AAP), the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the American Association for Cancer Research.