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Feeding higher levels of dietary animal protein (as casein or red meat) increases colonic DNA damage and thins the colonic mucus barrier in rats. Feeding resistant starch (RS) reverses these changes and increases large bowel SCFA. The present study examined whether high dietary dairy (casein or whey) or plant (soya) proteins had similar adverse effects and whether dietary RS was protective. Adult male rats were fed diets containing 15 or 25 % casein, whey or soya protein with or without 48 % high amylose starch (as a source of RS) for 4 weeks. DNA damage was measured in isolated colonocytes using the comet assay. Higher dietary casein and soya (but not whey) increased colonocyte DNA damage. DNA damage was highest with soya when fed at 15 or 25 % protein without RS. Dietary RS attenuated protein-induced colonocyte DNA damage in all groups but it remained significantly higher in rats fed 25 % soya compared with those fed 15 % protein. Dietary protein level did not affect colonic mucus thickness overall but the barrier was thinner in rats fed high dietary casein. This effect was reversed by feeding RS. Caecal total SCFA and butyrate pools were higher in rats fed RS compared with digestible starch. Caecal and faecal SCFA were unrelated to genetic damage but correlated with mucus thickness. The present data confirm that higher dietary protein affected colonocyte DNA and colonic mucus thickness adversely but that proteins differ in their effects on these indices of colon health. The data show also that these changes were reversed by RS.