Dietary calcium may reduce the risk of colon cancer, probably by precipitating cytotoxic surfactants, such as secondary bile acids, in the colonic lumen. We previously showed that milk mineral, an important source of calcium, decreases metabolic risk factors and colonic proliferation in rats. We now report the effects of the habitual intake of milk calcium on metabolic risk factors in healthy subjects. A double-blind, cross-over metabolic study was performed in 13 healthy males. Placebo milk products (calcium, 3 mm) were compared with regular milk products (calcium, 30 mm). In each 1-week period, the habitual diet was recorded, and urine and feces were collected for 1 and 3 days, respectively. Milk calcium significantly increased fecal pH and fecal excretion of phosphate (132%), total fat (139%), free fatty acids (195%), and bile acids (141%), indicating intestinal complexation. In fecal water, the concentrations of long-chain fatty acids, secondary bile acids (deoxycholic and lithocholic acid), neutral sterols, and phospholipids were about halved (P < 0.05). Consistent with these changes in soluble hydrophobic surfactants, calcium decreased the cytotoxicity of fecal water from 68 ± 9 to 28 ± 12% (P < 0.005). Calcium in milk products precipitates luminal cytotoxic surfactants and thus inhibits colonic cytotoxicity. Therefore, habitual dietary calcium may contribute to a nutritional modulation of colon cancer risk.


This work was supported by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Medical Sciences Grant 900-562-078 and Dutch Cancer Society Grant RUG 94-785.

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