Chemoprevention of aberrant crypt foci in the colon of rats by dietary onion

Eur J Cancer. 2007 Jan;43(2):454-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2006.09.022. Epub 2006 Dec 26.


Onion intake might reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, according to epidemiology. However, Femia showed in 2003 that diets with a 20% onion intake increase carcinogenesis in rats. We speculated this dose was too high. Prevention of initiation was thus tested in 60 rats given a 5% dried onion diet or AIN76 diet, and initiated 12 days later with azoxymethane (AOM, 1x20 mg/kg i.p.), 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ, 2x200 mg/kg p.o.), or N-nitroso-N-methylurea (2x50 mg/kg p.o.). Prevention of promotion was tested in 38 rats given AOM, then randomised to: AIN76 diet; 5% onion diet; phytochemicals diet (supplemented with propyl-disulfide, quercetine-glycosides and oligofructose); 1% pluronic F68 diet (a potent chemopreventive PEG-like block-polymer, used as a positive control). Aberrant crypt foci (ACF) were scored 30 days (initiation) or 100 days (promotion) after carcinogen injection. The onion diet given during initiation reduced the number of AOM-induced ACF (60 versus 86, p=0.03), and the size of IQ-induced ACF (1.33 versus 1.97, p=0.02). Given post-initiation, the onion diet reduced the number of ACF (34 versus 59, p=0.008) and of large ACF (6 versus 15, p=0.02). Phytochemicals diet and pluronic diet reduced ACF growth similarly. Data show that a 5% onion diet reduced carcinogenesis during initiation and promotion stages, and suggest this chemoprevention is due to known phytochemicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Azoxymethane / toxicity
  • Carcinogens / toxicity
  • Chemoprevention / methods*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diet therapy*
  • Female
  • Onions*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344


  • Carcinogens
  • Azoxymethane