The effects of dietary unsaturated and saturated fats on chemically induced colon carcinogenesis were examined in male Donryu rats. The rats were fed two types of semipurified diets consisting of 5% linoleic acid or 4.7% stearic acid plus 0.3% essential fatty acid as dietary fats. The rats were treated with azoxymethane (7.4 mg/kg body weight) s.c. once a week for 11 weeks and sacrificed 15 weeks after the last injection of the carcinogen. The rats fed unsaturated fat diet demonstrated a significantly higher incidence of colon tumors [100%], more tumors per rat [2.68 ± 1.60 (S.D.)], and greater malignant differentiation histologically than did those fed saturated fat diet [76%, 1.79 ± 1.59, respectively].

Lipid analysis of colon tumors and colon mucosa showed that unsaturated fat diet altered the phosphatide fatty acyl composition of colon mucosa markedly and increased the content of arachidonic acid in the neutral lipid of colon tumors. The altered lipid composition of the mucosa may increase the sensitivity of the colon to the carcinogen, and the excess of arachidonic acid or its metabolites may be the primary agents of cocarcinogenesis of colon tumors. These findings suggest that dietary unsaturated fats have potent cocarcinogenic effects on colon carcinogenesis.

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Supported by Grant-in-Aid 57570471 for Scientific Research of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan.

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