Send to

Choose Destination
Carcinogenesis. 2001 Oct;22(10):1653-9.

Red meat and colon cancer: dietary haem-induced colonic cytotoxicity and epithelial hyperproliferation are inhibited by calcium.

Author information

Nutrition and Health Programme, Wageningen Centre for Food Sciences, NIZO Food Research, PO Box 20, 6710 BA Ede, The Netherlands.


High intake of red meat is associated with increased colon cancer risk. We have shown earlier that this may be due to the high haem content of red meat, because dietary haem increased cytolytic activity of faecal water and colonic epithelial proliferation. Dietary calcium inhibits diet-induced epithelial hyperproliferation. Furthermore, it has been shown that supplemental calcium inhibited the recurrence of colorectal adenomas. Therefore, we studied whether dietary calcium phosphate can exert its protective effects by inhibiting the deleterious effects of haem. In vitro, calcium phosphate precipitated haem and inhibited the haem-induced cytotoxicity. Subsequently, rats were fed diets, differing in haem (0 or 1.3 micromol/g) and calcium phosphate content only (20 or 180 micromol/g). Faeces were collected for biochemical analyses. Cytolytic activity of faecal water was determined from the degree of lysis of erythrocytes by faecal water. Colonic epithelial proliferation was measured in vivo using [(3)H]thymidine incorporation. In rats fed low calcium diets, dietary haem increased cytolytic activity of faecal water (98 +/- 1 versus 1 +/- 1%, P < 0.001) and the concentration of cations in faeces (964 +/- 31 versus 254 +/- 20 micromol/g), when compared with controls. This indicates that dietary haem increased colonic mucosal exposure to luminal irritants. Colonic epithelial proliferation was increased compared with controls (70 +/- 4 versus 48 +/- 8 d.p.m./microg DNA, P < 0.001). This was accompanied by metabolism of the ingested haem and solubilization of haem compounds in the faecal water. A high calcium diet largely prevented this metabolism and solubilization. It also inhibited the haem-induced cytolytic activity of faecal water and increase in faecal cation concentration. In accordance, the haem-induced colonic epithelial hyperproliferation was prevented. We therefore suggest that dietary calcium phosphate acts as a chemopreventive agent in colon carcinogenesis by inhibiting the cytolytic and hyperproliferative effects of dietary haem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center