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J Nutr. 2004 Feb;134(2):479-82.

Microbial degradation products influence colon cancer risk: the butyrate controversy.

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Faculty of Nutrition, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2471, USA.


All dietary fiber, by definition, escapes digestion in the small intestine and thus arrives relatively intact in the large intestine. Its fate in the large intestine depends upon the type of fiber and the colonic microflora. Highly fermentable fibers result in short chain fatty acids including butyrate, which is thought by some to be protective against colon cancer. However, not all studies support a chemopreventive effect for butyrate and the lack of agreement (particularly between in vivo and in vitro studies) on butyrate and colon cancer has been termed the "butyrate paradox." There are a number of reasons for this discrepant effect including differences between the in vitro and in vivo environments, the timing of butyrate administration, the amount of butyrate administered, the source of butyrate (usually dietary fiber) as a potential confounder, and an interaction with dietary fat. Collectively, the studies suggest that the chemopreventive benefits of butyrate depend in part on amount, time of exposure with respect to the tumorigenic process, and the type of fat in the diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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