Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Research Project #436752

Research Project: Dietary Strategies for Cancer Prevention

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Project Number: 8050-51000-106-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 14, 2019
End Date: May 30, 2024

Objective 1: Define the cellular pathways by which obesity, obesigenic diets, and the intake of the 1-carbon nutrients modulate the risk of developing cancers of the colorectum and other common cancers in both animal models and human samples, and exploit these mechanistic insights in order to devise targeted means of mitigating cancer risk. • Sub-objective 1A: Determine whether the pro-inflammatory/pro-carcinogenic NF'B pathway plays the predominant role in mediating the obesity-promoted increased risk of colorectal carcinogenesis. • Sub-objective 1B: Determine whether supplemental levels of dietary vitamin B6 provide additional suppression of obesity-promoted tumorigenesis and colonic inflammation when combined with curcumin + salsalate, beyond that provided by the two latter agents alone. Objective 2: Examine how modifications in the microbiome alter biochemical and molecular processes that lead to colorectal cancer, and explore how intentional manipulations of the microbiome, or its products, can be exploited for cancer prevention. Objective 3: In both genetic and chemically-induced rodent models of colorectal carcinogenesis examine whether select alternative protein sources (e.g. insect-based foodstuffs) suppress pro-carcinogenic pathways and tumorigenesis compared to soy protein and other dietary sources of protein more common in the American diet.

We will identify novel strategies by which colorectal cancer (CRC), and other cancers that commonly afflict elderly Americans, can be prevented. Our aim is to lessen the risk that accompanies cancer-promoting features typifying the U.S. diet, such as its obesigenic character and emphasis on processed animal meat. Using a combination of in vitro experiments and animal models we identify biochemical and molecular pathways that mediate the effects of specific nutrients or dietary patterns on carcinogenesis. We then identify means of modulating those pathways to mitigate cancer risk. We will examine how the inflammatory state created by obesity and high-fat diets activates procancerous pathways in the colon. We are exploring the use of pharmacologic, nutritional, and microbial agents to block those pathways. The third objective is an exploratory aim, designed to generate preliminary data. We will examine whether substituting protein-rich powder derived from roasted crickets attenuates the enhanced risk of CRC that accompanies the habitual consumption of processed meats which are a prominent source of protein in the American diet. This strategy has the added value of promoting food sustainability. Our research will provide novel avenues for reducing the societal burden of common age-related cancers.