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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Cancer Medicine

Volume 5, Issue 8, August 2016, Pages 2032-2042.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1002/cam4.768 Copyright © Sun et al.


Inadequate dietary Zn consumption increases susceptibility to esophageal and other cancers in humans and model organisms. Since Zn supplementation can prevent cancers in rodent squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) models, we were interested in determining if it could have a preventive effect in a rodent skin cancer model, as a preclinical basis for considering a role for Zn in prevention of human nonmelanoma skin cancers, the most frequent cancers in humans. We used the 7,12-dimethyl benzanthracene carcinogen/phorbol myristate acetate tumor promoter treatment method to induce skin tumors in Zn-sufficient wild-type and Fhit (human or mouse protein) knockout mice. Fhit protein expression is lost in >50% of human cancers, including skin SCCs, and Fhit-deficient mice show increased sensitivity to carcinogen induction of tumors. We hypothesized that: (1) the skin cancer burdens would be reduced by Zn supplementation; (2) Fhit(-/-) (Fhit, murine fragile histidine triad gene) mice would show increased susceptibility to skin tumor induction versus wild-type mice. 30 weeks after initiating treatment, the tumor burden was increased ~2-fold in Fhit(-/-) versus wild-type mice (16.2 versus 7.6 tumors, P < 0.001); Zn supplementation significantly reduced tumor burdens in Fhit(-/-) mice (males and females combined, 16.2 unsupplemented versus 10.3 supplemented, P = 0.001). Most importantly, the SCC burden was reduced after Zn supplementation in both strains and genders of mice, most significantly in the wild-type males (P = 0.035). Although the mechanism(s) of action of Zn supplementation in skin tumor prevention is not known in detail, the Zn-supplemented tumors showed evidence of reduced DNA damage and some cohorts showed reduced inflammation scores. The results suggest that mild Zn supplementation should be tested for prevention of skin cancer in high-risk human cohorts.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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