We and others have previously shown that dietary fat can alter the growth and metastasis of rodent mammary tumors.

Few transplantable tumor models have been used to study the effects of dietary n-6 versus n-3 fatty acids on mammary tumorigenesis. Here we study the effects of fish oil and safflower oil on the growth and metastasis of an animal model that in several ways parallels the human disease. Tumor latency, growth and metastasis were studied in mice fed diets that contained either 10 or 20% total fat which was varied in the type of fat with either menhaden fish oil (FO), safflower oil (SO) or a 50/50 mixture of the two.

Tumor latency was significantly longer and tumor growth was significantly slower in mice fed the 20% FO diet. When spontaneous metastasis was assessed, mice fed diets containing FO had significantly decreased numbers of pulmonary nodules and total metastatic load.

Likewise, mice fed FO diets had a lower level of implantation and survival of pulmonary metastases. Thus, in our animal model, diets containing n-3 fatty acids in fish oil significantly decrease primary breast tumor growth and its metastasis.