Researchers have long wondered why many Americans’ high-fat diet increases the risk of colon cancer, the second most common malignancy in the country. Animal research published in the May 17, 1999 Journal of Cell Biology lends new insight into the high-fat diet and colon cancer link.
The process that causes colon cancer may be triggered by a protein called protein kinase C, found at elevated levels in the colon tumors of humans and mice. A high-fat diet may increase the protein’s activity, leading to rapid cell division and possible mutation. Researchers think the protein may bind to dietary fatty acids, eventually leading to cancer.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch who performed the study can’t confirm that dietary fats play a role with the protein in the development of colon cancer, but they have strong evidence implying the connection. Related studies continue.
In the meantime, play it safe by passing on the French fries and opting for the baked potato—and go easy on the butter and sour cream.
Murray, N. R., et al. “Overexpression of protein kinase C bII induces colonic hyperproliferation and increased sensitivity to colon carcinogenesis.” Journal of Cell Biology May 17, 1999, 145(4):699–711.