Dose effects of flaxseed and its lignan on N-methyl-N-nitrosourea-induced mammary tumorigenesis in rats


Rickard SE, Yuan YV, Chen J, Thompson LU




Nutr Cancer


Dietary supplementation with flaxseed or its lignan secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG) has reduced dimethylbenz[a]anthracene-induced mammary tumor size and number in rats. The objective of this study was to determine whether flaxseed has a dose-dependent effect on N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU)-induced mammary tumor promotion and whether this effect can be attributed to its SDG. Two days after injection with MNU (50 mg/kg body wt i.p.), female Sprague-Dawley rats were fed a high-fat (20% soybean oil) AIN-93G basal diet alone (BD) or supplemented with flaxseed (2.5% F and 5% F) or SDG by gavage [SDG in 2.5% F (LSDG) and SDG in 5% F (HSDG)] for 22 weeks. Although tumors tended to be smallest in the 5% F group throughout the experimental period, flaxseed feeding did not significantly affect tumor size, multiplicity, or incidence in comparison to BD. However, there was a dose-dependent effect of SDG on tumor multiplicity. Tumor multiplicity was lowest in the HSDG group and highest in the LSDG group throughout treatment (p < 0.05), indicating that HSDG inhibited, whereas LSDG promoted, MNU-induced mammary tumor development. Tumor invasiveness and grade were decreased in all treatment groups compared with the BD (p < 0.032). Thus, although flaxseed feeding had no significant effect on tumor growth indexes, flaxseed and SDG treatment, regardless of dose, appeared to delay the progression of MNU-induced mammary tumorigenesis. Disparities between this study and previous studies on flaxseed may be related to differences in experimental design, the use and dose of a different carcinogen, and protective effects by the alpha-linolenic acid present in the BD.