Cervical Cancer Precursors, Diet and Bitter Taste (6-n-propylthiouracil ‘PROP’) Receptors

Jennifer E. Wilkerson1, Joanne M. Bailey2, Mary E. Bieniasz3, Cheryl L. Rock4, Mack T. Ruffin*, 3
1 Midwestern University, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, Glendale, AZ
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Nurse Midwives, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI
3 Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
4 Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

© 2008 Wilkerson et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the 1018 Fuller St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104-1213, USA; Tel: (734) 998-7120 ext. 316; Fax: (734) 998-7335;


Prior studies suggest that 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) taste responsiveness is linked with reduced preferences for sweet and high-fat foods, lower adiposity, and favorable plasma lipid profiles. We hypothesize that women with more severe and persistent cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) have a greater sensitivity to PROP. To measure this, women with CIN II or III submitted a DNA blood sample and a food frequency questionnaire. Out of the samples tested, thirtyeight (47%) were classified as nontasters (AV) and 36 (44%) were classified as tasters (PA). There were no significant differences (p<0.05) between the taster groups with respect to demographic variables or food frequency data. Women with CIN II at baseline were significantly (p<0.003) more likely to clear the disease than women with CIN III at baseline. Genetic markers of PROP may indicate the likelihood of a woman’s acceptance of bitter foods, but had no association with food consumption, body mass index, and persistence of CIN.

Keywords: Food preferences, taste threshold, propylthiouracil, women, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.