Background: The nonpromoting effect of olive oil on colon carcinogenesis has been attributed to its high oleic acid content, whereas a positive association of monounsaturated fat in beef tallow with colon tumors has been reported. The effect of constituents other than fatty acids could not be neglected in these experiments. In order to minimize the effects of minor constituents in the oils, the authors compared conventional safflower oil with oil from a mutant strain of safflower that is rich in oleic acid.
Methods: ICR mice were treated with 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH, 20 mg/kg body weight every week for 12 weeks) and then were fed either a high-fat diet (23.5% by weight), containing safflower oil (HF-LA) or high-oleic safflower oil (HF-OA), or a low-fat diet (5% by weight), containing safflower oil (LF-LA) or high-oleic safflower oil (LF-OA). The test diets were continued until termination of the experiment at 30 weeks after the first administration of DMH. Fatty acid composition of colon phospholipids was determined by gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Results: Tumor multiplicity in animals fed the HF-OA diet was indistinguishable from that in animals fed LF-LA or LF-OA. In contrast, animals fed the HF-LA diet had a significantly higher incidence of colon tumors (mostly adenocarcinomas) than the other groups. Fatty acid profiles of colon phospholipids reflected those of the diet. Animals fed a HF-LA diet showed a marked decrease of nervonic acid (C24:1, n-9) in the colon sphingomyelin.
Conclusions: These data indicate that oleic acid does not enhance DMH-induced colon carcinogenesis in mice, even when they are fed a high-fat diet.