Background: The risks of colorectal cancer and adenoma, the precursor lesion, are believed to be influenced by dietary factors. Epidemiologic evidence that cereal fiber protects against colorectal cancer is equivocal. We conducted a randomized trial to determine whether dietary supplementation with wheat-bran fiber reduces the rate of recurrence of colorectal adenomas.
Methods: We randomly assigned 1429 men and women who were 40 to 80 years of age and who had had one or more histologically confirmed colorectal adenomas removed within three months before recruitment began to a supervised program of dietary supplementation with either high amounts (13.5 g per day) or low amounts (2 g per day) of wheat-bran fiber. The primary end point was the presence or absence of new adenomas at the time of follow-up colonoscopy. Subjects and physicians, including colonoscopists, were unaware of the group assignments.
Results: Of the 1303 subjects who completed the study, 719 had been randomly assigned to the high-fiber group and 584 to the low-fiber group. The median times from randomization to the last follow-up colonoscopy were 34 months in the high-fiber group and 36 months in the low-fiber group. By the time of the last follow-up colonoscopy, at least one adenoma had been identified in 338 subjects in the high-fiber group (47.0 percent) and in 299 subjects in the low-fiber group (51.2 percent). The multivariate adjusted odds ratio for recurrent adenoma in tile high-fiber group, as compared with the low-fiber group, was 0.88 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.70 to 1.11; P=0.28), and the relative risk of recurrence according to the number of adenomas, in the high-fiber group as compared with the low-fiber group, was 0.99 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.71 to 1.36; P=0.93).
Conclusions: As used in this study, a dietary supplement of wheat-bran fiber does not protect against recurrent colorectal adenomas.