Effect of meat and resistant starch on fecal excretion of apparent N-nitroso compounds and ammonia from the human large bowel

Nutr Cancer. 1997;29(1):13-23. doi: 10.1080/01635589709514596.


N-nitroso compounds are produced in the human large intestine, but little is known about the dietary modulation of their synthesis at this site. The effects of meat and resistant starch on the fecal excretion of N-nitroso compounds, measured as apparent total N-nitroso compounds (ATNC), were therefore investigated in a crossover study involving eight healthy men. Three controlled diets that differed in the amount of meat (40 or 600 g) and resistant starch (37 g added to 600 g meat diet) were fed in random order, and fecal ATNC, as well as fecal ammonia and parameters of bowel function, were measured after 19 days of dietary adaptation. Mean ATNC excretion during the high-meat period was 114 micrograms/day, three times that during the low-meat period of 35 micrograms/day (p = 0.02); ammonia excretion was twice that during the low-meat period: 2.9 vs. 1.4 mmol/day (p = 0.03). The fecal ATNC were dissolved in the fecal water, and 45% had a molecular weight < 3,000. The addition of readily fermentable resistant starch to the high-meat diet significantly increased stool output from 118 to 153 g/day and decreased fecal pH from 7.2 to 6.6 but had no significant effect on fecal ATNC (151 micrograms/day), ammonia (3.7 mmol/day), whole gut transit time, urinary nitrate, or plasma urea. ATNC produced in the large bowel in association with a high-meat intake could represent an important source of DNA-damaging alkylating agents in the human large bowel.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Gastrointestinal Transit
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intestine, Large / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Meat / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nitrates / urine
  • Nitroso Compounds / metabolism*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Reference Values
  • Starch / adverse effects*
  • Urea / blood


  • Nitrates
  • Nitroso Compounds
  • Ammonia
  • Urea
  • Starch