Evidence suggests that a high-calorie diet (HCD) can cause colon cancer and that this could be related to colon stem cell dysregulation.
In Cancer Prevention Research (online, 2 June 2017), researchers studied the colonic stem cells of pigs fed an HCD and those of pigs fed a standard diet over 13 weeks
They found that the HCD resulted in colon stem cell proliferation and expansion — two important early markers of colon cancer. They also discovered that pigs maintain two types of stem cells — ASCL-2 positive and BMI-1 positive — in the colon, similar to the human system.
The researchers say the findings are important given that most cases of colon cancer are thought to be related to diet and lifestyle. They also suggest that the pig model could be more relevant than mouse models for the development of preventive and therapeutic agents/strategies against disease as mice lack colonic BMI-1 stem cells.
 Charepalli V, Reddivari L, Radhakrishnan S et al. Pigs, unlike mice, have two distinct colonic stem cell populations similar to humans that respond to high-calorie diet prior to insulin resistance. Cancer Prev Res 2017. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0010