Fecal microbiome as determinant of the effect of diet on colorectal cancer risk: Comparison of meat-based versus pesco-vegetarian diets (the MeaTIc study)

Francesco Sofi, Monica Dinu, Giuditta Pagliai, Fabrice Pierre, Francoise Gueraud, Jildau Bowman, Philippe Gerard, Vincenzo Longo, Lisa Giovannelli, Giovanna Caderni, Carlotta De Filippo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Convincing evidence suggests that the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) is increased by the typical Western diet characterized by high consumption of red and processed meat. In addition, some epidemiological studies suggest a reduction in the risk of CRC associated with fish consumption. The role of the gut microbiome in this diet-associated risk is not well understood. Methods/design: This is a randomized parallel open clinical trial comprising a total of 150 clinically healthy subjects randomly assigned to three groups: a meat-based diet of which 4 portions per week are red meat (1 portion = 150 g), 3 portions per week are processed meat (1 portion = 50 g), and 1 portion per week is poultry (1 portion = 150 g), for a total amount of 900 g per week of meat and derivatives; a meat-based diet supplemented with alpha-tocopherol; and a pesco-vegetarian diet excluding fresh and processed meat and poultry, but which includes 3 portions per week of fish for a total amount of 450 g per week. Each intervention will last 3 months. The three diets will be isocaloric and of three different sizes according to specific energy requirements. Anthropometric measurements, body composition, and blood and fecal samples will be obtained from each participant at the beginning and end of each intervention phase. The measure of the primary outcome will be the change from baseline in DNA damage induced by fecal water using the comet assay in a cellular model. Secondary outcome measures will be changes in the profile of fecal microbiomes, global fecal and urinary peroxidation markers, and neoplastic biomarkers. Discussion: Although epidemiological data support the promoting role of meat and the possible protective role of fish in colon carcinogenesis, no study has directly compared dietary profiles characterized by the presence of these two food groups and the role of the gut microbiome in these diet-associated CRC risks. This study will test the effect of these dietary profiles on validated CRC risk biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number688
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 9 2019


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diet
  • Intestinal microbiome
  • Meat
  • Neoplastic disease
  • Prevention
  • Vegetarian

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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