Effects of high fat diet on incidence of spontaneous tumors in Wistar rats

E. KRISTIANSEN, Charlotte Bernhard Madsen, Otto A. Meyer, K. ROSWALL, I. THORUP

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In a 2.5-year carcinogenicity study, two groups, both including male and female Wistar rats, were fed two different diets with 4% and 16% fat. In addition to 4% soybean oil, the high-fat diet contained 12% mono- and diglycerides, of which 85% was stearic acid and 13% palmitic acid. There was no difference in food consumption, body weight, weight gain, and longevity between the two groups. A statistically significant increase in the incidence of tumors in the high-fat group was seen in fibroadenoma of the mammae (female, p = 0.05). No statistically significant difference was seen when the incidence of benign mammary tumors (adenomas and fibroadenomas) was combined, just as the overall incidence of mammary tumors (adenomas, fibroadenomas, and adenocarcinomas) was not significantly different between the groups. A statistically significant decrease in the incidence of tumors in the high-fat group was seen in adenoma of the parathyroid gland (male, p = 0.04) and medullary carcinoma of the adrenal gland (male, p = 0.04). Combining the incidences of benign and malignant tumors of the adrenal medulla led to a further increase in the level of significance (p = 0. 02). The present study showed that a high-fat diet influenced the tumor incidence in certain organs of rats. However, the overall differences in tumor incidence between rats fed the low- and the high-fat diet are considered marginal Therefore we were not able to confirm or deny the hypothesis that a high-fat diet promotes the development of cancer. It should be noted that, in our study, fat accounted for about 30% of the total energy in the high-fat diet. This is much below the amount of fat normally found in the western diet but corresponds well to the level recommended for human intake. In addition, the rats fed the high-fat diet did not gain more weight, even though no difference was recorded in food consumption (g/kg body wt) between the groups.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)99-110
Publication statusPublished - 1993

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