Dietary phytosterol supplements are readily available to consumers since they effectively reduce plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Several studies on cell cultures and xenograft mouse models suggest that dietary phytosterols may also exert protective effects against common cancers. We examined the effects of a dietary phytosterol supplement on tumor onset and progression using the well-characterized mouse mammary tumor virus polyoma virus middle T antigen transgenic mouse model of inherited breast cancer. Both the development of mammary hyperplastic lesions (at age 4 weeks) and total tumor burden (at age 13 weeks) were reduced after dietary phytosterol supplementation in female mice fed a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet. A blind, detailed histopathologic examination of the mammary glands (at age 8 weeks) also revealed the presence of less-advanced lesions in phytosterol-fed mice. This protective effect was not observed when the mice were fed a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Phytosterol supplementation was effective in preventing lipoprotein oxidation in mice fed the high-fat diet, a property that may explain - at least in part - their anticancer effects since lipoprotein oxidation/inflammation has been shown to be critical for tumor growth. In summary, our study provides preclinical proof of the concept that dietary phytosterols could prevent the tumor growth associated with fat-rich diet consumption. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.
- Breast cancer
- MMTV-PyMT mice