Cold temperatures may promote the growth and spread of cancer, according to new research that raises questions about some cancer therapies.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
and reported on the Medical Express
Website, found that mice living in a relatively cold environment had cancers that grew more quickly and aggressively than mice living at warmer, more comfortable temperatures.
A cold environment boosted the growth of several different types of cancer, including breast, skin, colon, and pancreas, according to researchers from at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
It did not matter whether the mice had spent their entire lives in a cold environment before or after they got cancer — their tumors still grew more quickly in chillier temperatures.
Researchers suggested cold may somehow affect the immune system's cancer-killing T cells. The study found that T cells in mice living in a warmer environment were quicker and better at attacking tumor and also secreted more cancer-fighting substances than the cells from cold mice.
In the tumors of cold mice, there were greater numbers of cells capable of shutting down normal immune responses. As a result, cold temperatures tended to shift the body's response from fighting tumors to accepting them.
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