Mechanisms of the intestinal effects of dietary fats and milk products on colon carcinogenesis

Cancer Lett. 1997 Mar 19;114(1-2):75-83. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(97)04629-6.


Dietary fat may promote colon cancer by increasing fatty acids (FA) and secondary bile acids (BA) in the colonic lumen. These cytotoxic surfactants can damage colonic epithelial cells and thus induce a compensatory hyperproliferation of crypt cells. Our studies show that the hyperproliferative effect of type and amount of dietary fat is not simply due to changes in colonic FA and BA. This indicates that an additional, at present unknown, cytotoxic factor is involved. The hyperproliferative effect of dietary fat is inversely related to the amount of calcium in the diet. In rat and man, dietary calcium precipitates colonic cytotoxic surfactants and thus inhibits luminal cytotoxicity. These inhibitory effects on metabolic risk factors suggest a preventive effect of dietary calcium on colon carcinogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / chemistry
  • Bile Acids and Salts / physiology
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / drug effects
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Male
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • Phosphates / pharmacology
  • Rats


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Phosphates
  • Calcium