Sunday, 5 May 2013

Green vegetables, red meat and colon cancer: chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of haem in rat colon.

I've just had a long and fascinating telephone conversation with Jay Bryant. This has inspired me to write three new blog posts. This is the first. There's a recurring theme.
Om, nom, nom!
Lions are obligate carnivores, which means that they must eat meat. Wild lions also eat processed carbohydrates. Wait, WHAT?!?! The word "processed" has bad connotations. However, it merely means "having undergone a process", without specifying what the process is.

Lions tear open the stomachs of their prey. The contents spill out and some are consumed by the lions. What do herbivores eat? Green vegetable matter. Being chewed by the molars of a herbivore is technically-speaking food processing. So, on to the study in the title.

See Green vegetables, red meat and colon cancer: chlorophyll prevents the cytotoxic and hyperproliferative effects of haem in rat colon.

"In both studies haem increased cytotoxicity of the colonic contents approximately 8-fold and proliferation of the colonocytes almost 2-fold. Spinach or an equimolar amount of chlorophyll supplement in the haem diet inhibited these haem effects completely. Haem clearly inhibited exfoliation of colonocytes, an effect counteracted by spinach and chlorophyll. Finally, size exclusion chromatography showed that chlorophyll prevented formation of the cytotoxic haem metabolite. We conclude that green vegetables may decrease colon cancer risk because chlorophyll prevents the detrimental, cytotoxic and hyperproliferative colonic effects of dietary haem."

It's a rat study (experiments on humans are unethical), but there's Heme and Chlorophyll Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in the Netherlands Cohort Study. Finally, there's Associations between Red Meat and Risks for Colon and Rectal Cancer Depend on the Type of Red Meat Consumed.

So, always eat greens with your red meat. A tablespoonful of cooked spinach is all you need.

EDIT: I just found Red meat and colon cancer: should we become vegetarians, or can we make meat safer?

"For instance, promotion of colon carcinogenesis in rats by cooked, nitrite-treated and oxidized high-heme cured meat was suppressed by dietary calcium and by α-tocopherol, and a study in volunteers supported these protective effects in humans."

As dietary calcium binds to haem iron, this suggests that other binding agents would work e.g. phytates (in whole grains) and tannins (in tea).

α-tocopherol is a fat-based antioxidant. Vitamin E supplements contain D α-tocopherol.


Kade Storm A.K.A. Hedonist said...

A tablesoonful with how much red meat, exactly?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

According to the above study, 0.5mmol haem/kg bodyweight. 0.5mmol of HeFe = 0.3mg, as 1mole = 616g. Therefore, it's 0.3mg HeFe/kg bodyweight.

According to , red meat contains ~1mg HeFe/100g meat. Therefore, there's ~0.3mg of HeFe in 30g of red meat.

Therefore, you can eat ~30g of red meat/kg bodyweight. That's a very big steak!

Kade Storm A.K.A. Hedonist said...


Although I'm in the midst of a very long and largely vegetarian stint, I appreciate this kind of information. It is good to know because for those of us with digestive issues that result in nutrient status problems, some quality steak with a bit of liver and a side of greens can be very helpful.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

If you hadn't asked, I would never have bothered to work it out!

I thought that I'd Whitelisted you, but I still had to approve your comment. I've now added your username and your email address to the Whitelist. Hope that works.