Possible mechanisms behind the differential effects of soy protein and casein feedings on colon cancer biomarkers in the rat

E.H. Vis, G.J. Geerse, E.S. Klaassens, M.A.J.S. van Boekel, G.M. Alink

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11 Citations (Scopus)


In the present studies, several hypotheses were tested to explain previously reported differential effects of soy and casein on colon cancer biomarkers like cell proliferation, fecal fat, fecal bile acid, alkaline phosphatase, and magnesium excretion in rats. In Study 1, the effect of methionine, a limiting amino acid in soy protein and an amino acid that is thought to have a marked effect on colonic cell proliferation, was tested. It was concluded that methionine up to 1% in the diet had no effect on cell proliferation, using the 3H-thymidine assay. The same study revealed that fecal alkaline phosphatase excretion is a good marker for colonic epithelial damage and fecal magnesium excretion is not. In Study 2, the hypothesis was tested that soy fractions enriched with isoflavones and saponins may increase fat excretion and so influence colonic cell proliferation in rats. It was indeed shown that soy protein isolate and an ethanolic extract from soy protein isolate slightly increased fecal fat excretion (up to 1.7-fold). However, fecal water bile acid and free fatty acid concentrations were decreased after feeding soy protein-based diets compared with casein, and no difference in fecal alkaline phosphatase excretion was observed. In Study 3, the lytic potential of soy saponins and the interaction between saponins and some lytic bile acids were tested in vitro. Data suggest a protective effect from soy saponins by reducing lytic activity of cholic acid. The overall conclusion is that soy protein compared with casein influences several colon cancer risk parameters, indicating a more protective rather than a stimulating effect on colon cancer risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-44
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • dietary soybean protein
  • bile-acids
  • cell-proliferation
  • saponin content
  • carcinogenesis
  • methionine
  • calcium
  • 1,2-dimethylhydrazine
  • methylation
  • consumption


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