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Carcinogenesis. 1992 Feb; 13(2): 153-7.

The effect of a shift from a mixed diet to a lacto-vegetarian diet on human urinary and fecal mutagenic activity.

Johansson G, Holmén A, Persson L, Högstedt R, Wassén C, Ottova L, Gustafsson JA.

Department of Medical Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge University Hospital, Sweden.

This is an investigation of the effects of a shift from a well-balanced mixed diet to a lacto-vegetarian diet on the mutagenic activity in urine and feces. The participants were 20 normal-weight, non-smoking subjects (4 men and 16 women, mean age 44 years, range 27-61 years). The fecal samples were assayed for direct-acting mutagens with the fluctuation test for weak mutagens and the urinary samples were assayed with the same assay but with a metabolic activation system, a so-called S9 fraction. The switch from a mixed diet to a lacto-vegetarian diet was not a shift from a so-called high to a low risk diet for colon cancer but rather from a 'medium high risk diet' to a 'low risk diet', even though there were significant changes in nutrients and food components between the two diets. There was a decrease in fat (P = 0.009) and protein intake (P = 0.04) and an increase in total carbohydrate (P = 0.001), fiber (P = 0.001), calcium (P = 0.006) and vitamin C intake (P = 0.019). Among the food preparation methods the use of frying decreased (P = 0.02) and the habit of eating a new vegetable meal increased (P = 0.05). Three months after the dietary shift the concentration of fecal direct-acting mutagens decreased significantly (P less than 0.05), though the total mutagenic activity excreted in feces per 24 h was not different between the two diet periods. Both the concentration and the total amount of promutagens in the urine were decreased after 3 months on the lacto-vegetarian diet. The decrease in fecal mutagenic activity might be explained by a higher fiber intake, which leads to higher water content in feces and thereby a dilution of fecal mutagenic compounds.

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