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

Gunnar Johansson, Anders Holmén, Lennart Persson, Benkt Högstedt, Cecilia Wassén, Ludmila Ottova, Jan Ake Gustafsson

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18 Scopus citations


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 raw vegetable meal increased (P = 0.05). Three months after the dietary shift the concentration of fecal direct-acting mutagens decreased significantly (P < 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-157
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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