Uncoupling Obesity from Cancer: Bromodomain Co-regulators That Control Inflammatory Networks

  • Gerald V. DenisEmail author
  • Deborah J. Bowen
Part of the Energy Balance and Cancer book series (EBAC, volume 7)


As the epidemic of overweight and obesity spreads, the number of ­individuals at risk for metabolic complications of obesity, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, is expected to increase. Importantly, the risks of complications are not evenly distributed, because not all obesity is biochemically identical. Here we describe “metabolically healthy obese” humans and animal models that show remarkable protection from insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, despite severe obesity. A hallmark of these patients and animals is their reduced inflammatory profile, which we hypothesize confers protection not only from cardiometabolic risk in obesity but also from obesity-associated cancers. Research is urgently required to investigate the basis for this protection, to identify treatment options and prevention strategies for at-risk populations. We explore novel insights into chromatin-based, transcriptional co-regulator mechanisms that link apparently unrelated diseases, with the idea that certain molecularly targeted strategies could moderate multiple risks in obesity. We voice concern that low socioeconomic status citizens are particularly at risk for cardiometabolic disease and obesity-associated cancer, in part because many such individuals live in inflammatory and obesogenic environments. An integrated and hypothesis-driven approach is needed to study and protect these vulnerable and underserved populations from the rising tide of obesity-associated cancer.


White Adipose Tissue Visceral Adipose Tissue Lung Cancer Mortality Adipose Depot Adipose Tissue Inflammation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank the National Institutes of Health (DK090455, GVD and DK0704192, DJB), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U48 DP001922, DJB), the American Cancer Society (RSG-05-072-01, GVD), the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (6023-09, GVD), the Boston University Clinical and Translational Science Institute (UL1-TR000157, GVD), and the Evans Center for Biomedical Research. The authors are members of an Evans Center-sponsored, multidisciplinary research collaborative, entitled “Obesity, Inflammation and Cancer” based at Boston University. GVD is a former Chair of the Basic Science Section of The Obesity Society and gratefully acknowledges the intellectual and financial support of the Society and its demonstrated and ongoing commitment to address the problem of obesity-associated cancer.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Hematology Oncology, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Cancer Research CenterBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Community Health SciencesBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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