Fecal short chain fatty acids in South African urban Africans and whites

Dis Colon Rectum. 1995 Jul;38(7):732-4. doi: 10.1007/BF02048031.


Diminished levels for fecal short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) have been linked to occurrence of ulcerative colitis, colorectal polyps, and colon cancer, diseases that are rare or uncommon in African populations.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine fecal SCFA concentrations and fecal pH values in groups of black South Africans (African) and white South Africans (white) subjects.

Methods: Twenty healthy Africans (all women; mean age, 35 years) and 17 healthy whites (7 women; 10 men; mean age, 32 years) were tested.

Results: Mean total concentrations of SCFAs in the two groups were 142.1 (+/- 53.9) and 69.2 (+/- 26.0) mmol/kg wet feces, respectively (P = 0.0001). Mean values for Africans were significantly higher in all subfractions except butyrate. There was a significant inverse correlation between fecal pH value and total fecal SCFA concentration (r = 0.704; P = 0.001).

Conclusion: High concentrations of fecal SCFAs in the African group could protect against chronic bowel diseases.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Colonic Diseases / epidemiology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / analysis*
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Male
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Urban Population*


  • Fatty Acids, Volatile