British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Beef meat promotion of dimethylhydrazine-induced colorectal carcinogenesis biomarkers is suppressed by dietary calcium

Fabrice Pierrea1 c1, Raphaëlle Santarellia1, Sylviane Tachéa1, Françoise Guérauda2 and Denis E. Corpeta1

a1 UMR1089 Xénobiotiques, INRA-ENVT, 23 ch. Capelles, F-31076 Toulouse, France

a2 Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, 180 ch. Tournefeuille, F-31931 Toulouse, France


Red meat consumption is associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. We have previously shown that haemin, Hb and red meat promote carcinogen-induced preneoplastic lesions: aberrant crypt foci (ACF) and mucin-depleted foci (MDF) in rats. We have also shown that dietary Ca, antioxidant mix and olive oil inhibit haemin-induced ACF promotion, and normalize faecal lipoperoxides and cytotoxicity. Here we tested if these strategies are effective also against red meat promotion in dimethylhydrazine-induced rats. Three diets with 60 % beef meat were supplemented with calcium phosphate (31 g/kg), antioxidant agents (rutin and butylated hydroxyanisole, 0·05 % each) and olive oil (5 %). ACF, MDF, faecal water cytotoxicity, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) and urinary 1,4-dihydroxynonane mercapturic acid (DHN-MA) were measured. Beef meat diet increased the number of ACF (+30 %) and MDF (+100 %) (P < 0·001), which confirms our previous findings. Promotion was associated with increased faecal water TBARs ( × 4) and cytotoxicity ( × 2), and urinary DHN-MA excretion ( × 15). Ca fully inhibited beef meat-induced ACF and MDF promotion, and normalized faecal TBARS and cytotoxicity, but did not reduce urinary DHN-MA. Unexpectedly, high-calcium control diet-fed rats had more MDF and ACF in the colon than low-Ca control diet-fed rats. Antioxidant mix and olive oil did not normalize beef meat promotion nor biochemical factors. The results confirm that haem causes promotion of colon carcinogenesis by red meat. They suggest that Ca can reduce colorectal cancer risk in meat-eaters. The results support the concept that toxicity associated with the excess of a useful nutrient may be prevented by another nutrient.

(Received June 22 2007)

(Revised August 28 2007)

(Accepted September 06 2007)

(Online publication October 22 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Fabrice Pierre, fax +33 561 491 263, email


Abbreviations: ACF, aberrant crypt foci; DHN-MA, 1,4-dihydroxynonane mercapturic acid; HNE, 4-hydroxynonenal; MDF, mucin-depleted foci; TBARS, thiobarbituric acid reactive substances