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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1990 Jun 6;82(11):950-2.

Effects of sodium sulfate on fecal pH and proliferation of colonic mucosa in patients at high risk for colon cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Canada.


High fecal pH level has been suggested as a risk factor for colorectal cancer. We previously demonstrated that, although sodium sulfate did not affect the proliferation rate of colonic mucosa, as indicated by thymidine-labeling index, it did lower fecal pH in subjects at average risk for colon cancer. In the current study, we evaluated the effects of sodium sulfate on fecal pH and proliferation of colonic mucosa in subjects at high risk for colon cancer. Fifty-seven patients who had had colonic polyps removed were randomly assigned to two groups to receive either sodium sulfate (27 patients) or a placebo (25 patients) at a mean dose of 4 g/day for 14 days. Age, sex, height, and weight were comparable in both groups. Before intervention, levels of fecal pH were similar in the two groups, but after intervention, fecal pH was reduced only in the sodium sulfate group (mean decrease, 0.3 U; P less than .01). Thymidine-labeling index (number of labeled cells per number of cells counted) was similar in the two groups prior to intervention and did not change significantly after intervention (mean increase, 0.9%; P = .35). Regression analysis revealed no correlation between the change in labeling index and the change in fecal pH. We conclude that high fecal pH level is only indirectly associated with the development of colon cancer and, therefore, may be a secondary, rather than a primary, measure of cancer risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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