Cancer is a leading cause of human death around the world. It was estimated that 30-70-percent of all cancer cases might be preventable by dietary modification, depending on the dietary components and specific type of cancer. Epidemiological evidence indicates that a diet abundant in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer in some individuals, and this effect has been attributed to bioactive components present in these foods. Many bioactive food components have been studied intensively for possible cancer preventive effects. However, a major challenge to realizing the cancer-fighting effects of these bioactive components is their effective delivery through foods to human body. At present, the health promoting benefits of certain bioactive food components (such as butyrate) cannot be realized because they cannot be delivered to the appropriate site of action (the colon) through conventional food products.
The overall goal of this project is to develop food-based delivery systems for transporting butyrate to the colon, and to demonstrate the efficacy of these systems using animal models. This project would generate fundamental scientific knowledge about how common food components (lipids and polysaccharides) can be assembled into new food structures with novel functional properties, such as delivery of butyrate to the colon. This knowledge could be used to incorporate bioactive lipids (butyrate-enriched milk fat, BMF) into functional food products specifically designed to tackle human health problems, such as colon cancer prevention. The significance of this project would therefore be to improve the health of the nation, to reduce health-related costs, and to increase the global competitiveness of the United States food industry.