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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Hursting Moves Into 16th Year of Breast Cancer Research Foundation Grant

Above all else, researchers must be patient.

Dr. Stephen Hursting, professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and UNC’s Nutrition Research Institute, knows this to be true. For decades, he has studied the links between obesity and cancer, trying to find a solution for the increased risk obesity can cause.

“Our work has evolved from asking Is obesity increasing cancer risk? and What are the mechanisms linking obesity and cancer?” he says. “We have largely answered the first question and are still working on the second, but our focus really has turned to What are we going to do about it?

Happily, Dr. Hursting has ongoing support from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). With a ~$250,000 award running October 1, 2019, through September 30, 2020, he will launch a research project titled, “Combining Intermittent Energy Restriction and Anti-Inflammatory Regimens to Mimic the Anticancer Effects of Bariatric Surgery.”

“Thanks to previous BCRF funding, we were able to establish that sleeve gastrectomy — the most common form of weight loss surgery in the United States — reverses many of the metabolic, inflammatory and pro-cancer effects of obesity,” Dr. Hursting says. “In the current grant, we are testing whether a 5:2 diet regimen (5 days/week of a healthy diet; 2 days/week of a low-carbohydrate/low-calorie diet), when combined with an aspirin-like anti-inflammatory drug, can exert the metabolic and inflammatory reprogramming and anti-cancer effects of the bariatric surgery without doing the surgery.  We also are working to establish the role of the microbiome in these effects.”

The current award from BCRF marks the sixteenth year the organization has funded Dr. Hursting in some capacity.

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