Nutrition and diet in the development of gastrointestinal cancer

Curr Oncol Rep. 2003 May;5(3):192-202. doi: 10.1007/s11912-003-0110-y.


Diet plays a role in the prevention and development of gastrointestinal cancers. The majority of available research consists of case-control studies, but the number of clinical trials is growing. The dietary recommendations to reduce gastrointestinal cancer risk include lowering total energy, fat, and saturated fat intake; avoidance of grilled and smoked foods; avoidance of alcohol; and increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Studies of esophageal cancer support these dietary approaches, with the exception of dietary fat reduction and increased green tea intake. For gastric cancer, consuming additional fruits and vegetables, including those high in ascorbic acid, may reduce risk, and the capacity for diet to alter Helicobacter pylori infection should be explored. Recent interventional trials do not support a role for high-fiber or low-fat diets in reducing development of colon adenomas, although the evidence does not rule out efficacy at earlier stages of disease. Finally, the evidence for a relationship between pancreatic cancer and diet remains sparse and warrants additional investigation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Risk Factors