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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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Leukemia Cells in Obese Children "Hide" From Chemo Drugs in Fat Cells

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Science is not always kind in the answers it reveals, but knowing these unfortunate answers can be helpful to the most vulnerable. For example, a recent study conducted by Steven D. Mittleman (no familial relation as far as I know), the research director with the Division of Endocrinology at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, recently discovered that obese children with leukemia relapse more often because fat may impair the immune system’s ability to stop cancer. Furthermore, obesity may also predispose cells to become cancerous.

Mittleman and his research team injected mice with typical chemotherapy drugs. The mice also had cultured fat injected, as well as leukemia cells. The results were both shocking and revealing: each chemotherapy drug was less effective when it came into contact with the fat cultures in the mice. In fact, when compared to lean mice, the obese mice had higher relapse rates of leukemia. The doctors actually discovered that the leukemia cells “hid” in the fat tissue during chemotherapy—creating a “safe haven” for the cancer.

The study’s results help to explain why obese children with leukemia have a 50% higher relapse rate than their thinner counterparts. Leukemia is the most common form of cancer in children, with 2,000 affected each year. The results of this study also emphasize the importance of ingraining good exercise habits in your children, starting from an early age. It could keep them healthy in more ways than one.