The effects of unsaturated fat and fiber (cellulose) on the growth of human colon cancer explanted to athymic nude mice was evaluated. Eighty-seven male nude mice bearing xenografts of human HT29 or WiDr colon cancer were divided into three groups of equal weight and tumor volume. Each group was fed one of three diets: normal fat/no fiber (N/N), high fat/no fiber (H/N) or high fat/high fiber (H/H). To equalize caloric intake, animals in the H/N group received 4 g of food per day and the other animals were fed 5 g of food per day. At sacrifice tumor volume and weight was recorded, and tumors were analyzed for protein and DNA content and ornithine decarboxylase activity. Tumor volume, weight, and protein were greater in the H/N group compared to the N/N group for both colon cancer cell lines. Tumor DNA content was greater in the HT29 H/N group compared to the N/N group (P<0.05) and tumor ornithine decarboxylase activity in the WiDr H/N group was greater than the N/N animals (P<0.002). The tumor growth-promoting effects of the high unsaturated fat diet were attenuated by the addition of fiber. Animal weight was higher in the H/N group compared to the N/N and H/H groups. This study suggested that a high-fat diet stimulated and fiber decreased the growth of human colon cancer explanted to athymic nude mice. The growth-promoting effects of a high-fat diet in colorectal cancer may be due in part to a circulating trophic factor since these tumors were remote from the large intestine.
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