To study the possible role of bile acids in carcinogenesis of the large bowel faecal bile acid profiles were analysed in detail in 14 patients with large bowel cancer and compared with 14 matched healthy subjects. The total faecal bile acid excretion was lower in the patients (297.3 +/- 402.8 mumol/day) than in the healthy subjects (470.6 +/- 231.1 mumol/day) (p less than 0.01), although the difference became insignificant when these data were expressed as mumol per wet or dry faecal weight. The faecal profiles of individual bile acids and their conjugates were similar in both groups except that 5 beta-chol-3-en-24-oic acid, a bacterial metabolite of sulpholithocholic acid, was found in nine cancer patients (64%) compared with only two healthy subjects (14%) (p less than 0.01). The significance of 5 beta-chol-3-en-24-oic acid in carcinogenesis needs further prospective and experimental studies.
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