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December 22, 1945


JAMA. 1945;129(17):1169. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860510035013

The role of nutrition in cancer has received much attention, since both the developing cancer cell and the growing tumor must obtain sustenance from the metabolic pool of the body. Tannenbaum1 demonstrated that underfeeding—restriction of the ad libitum intake by approximately one third—invariably caused a significant reduction in the incidence of tumors in mice. This inhibitory effect on tumor formation was noted with all four types of tumors studied—spontaneous mammary carcinoma, spontaneous lung tumor, induced carcinoma of the skin and induced sarcoma—suggesting that many types of tumors respond in a similar manner. Furthermore, the tumors of the underfed groups appeared, on the average, later than those of the full-fed groups. While the reduction in food intake to about two thirds of the normal intake seems drastic, the underfed mice appeared healthy and in general lived longer than the controls.

Tannenbaum suggested that the inhibition of tumor formation through underfeeding