, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 415-424
Date: 08 Mar 2009

Dietary stearate reduces human breast cancer metastasis burden in athymic nude mice

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Stearate is an 18-carbon saturated fatty acid found in many foods in the western diet, including beef and chocolate. Stearate has been shown to have anti-cancer properties during early stages of neoplastic progression. However, previous studies have not investigated the effect of dietary stearate on breast cancer metastasis. In this study, we present evidence that exogenously supplied dietary stearate dramatically reduces the size of tumors that formed from injected human breast cancer cells within the mammary fat pads of athymic nude mice by approximately 50% and partially inhibits breast cancer cell metastasis burden in the lungs in this mouse model system. This metastatic inhibition appears to be independent of primary tumor size, as stearate fed animals that had primary tumors comparable in size to littermates fed either a safflower oil enriched diet or a low fat diet had reduced lung metastasis. Also stearate fed mice sub-groups had different primary tumor sizes but no difference in metastasis. This anti-metastasis effect may be due, at least in part, to the ability of stearate to induce apoptosis in these human breast cancer cells. Overall, this study suggests the possibility of dietary manipulation with selected long-chain saturated fatty acids such as stearate as a potential adjuvant therapeutic strategy for breast cancer patients wishing to maximize the suppression of metastatic disease.