Western-style diet-induced colonic tumors and their modulation by calcium and vitamin D in C57Bl/6 mice: a preclinical model for human sporadic colon cancer

Carcinogenesis. 2009 Jan;30(1):88-92. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgn229. Epub 2008 Nov 18.


We reported previously that a new Western-style diet (NWD) for 18 months, consisting of elevated lipids and decreased calcium, vitamin D and methyl-donor nutrients, induced colonic tumors in normal C57Bl/6 mice [Newmark, H.L. et al. (2001) A Western-style diet induces benign and malignant neoplasms in the colon of normal C57Bl/6 mice. Carcinogenesis, 22, 1871-1875], suggesting a new mouse model for human sporadic colon cancer. Here, we have extended this study during a longer feeding period of 2 years wherein tumor formation, tumor inhibition by addition of dietary calcium and vitamin D and their effects on gene expression were determined. We also similarly tested individual supplements of methyl donor (transfer) nutrients (folic acid, choline, methionine and dietary fiber), but these had no significant effect on colonic tumor incidence or multiplicity, whereas supplementation with combined calcium and vitamin D produced significant decrease in both colon tumor incidence and multiplicity, during 2 years of feeding. No visible colonic tumors were found at 6 months, very few at 12 months, more at 18 months and significantly at 24 months. In a related study of gene changes of the mouse colonic mucosa at 6 months of feeding taken from this study, long before any tumors were visibly detectable, indicated altered profiles of gene expression linked to later risk of dietary initiation of colon tumor formation. This type of early genetic altered profile, an indication of increased risk of later colonic tumor development, may become a useful tool for prediction of colon tumor risk while the colon grossly still appears histologically and physiologically normal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*


  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium