The Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets and colorectal cancer

Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec;92(6):1429-35. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29242.


Background: Although the Mediterranean diet has been studied for cancer mortality and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet shares similarities with the Mediterranean diet, few studies have specifically examined these 2 diets and incident colorectal cancer.

Objective: The objective was to prospectively assess the association between the Alternate Mediterranean Diet (aMed) and the DASH-style diet scores and risk of colorectal cancer in middle-aged men and women.

Design: A total of 87,256 women and 45,490 men (age 30-55 y for women and 40-75 y for men at baseline) without a history of cancer were followed for ≤ 26 y. The aMed and DASH scores were calculated for each participant by using dietary information that was assessed ≤ 7 times during follow-up. Relative risks (RRs) for colorectal cancer were computed with adjustment for potential confounders.

Results: We documented 1432 cases of incident colorectal cancer among women and 1032 cases in men. Comparing top with bottom quintiles of the DASH score, the pooled RR for total colorectal cancer was 0.80 (95% CI: 0.70, 0.91; P for trend = 0.0001). The corresponding RR for DASH score and colon cancer was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.69, 0.95; P for trend = 0.002). There was a suggestion of an inverse association with rectal cancer with a pooled RR of 0.73 (95% CI: 0.55, 0.98; P for trend = 0.31) when comparing top with bottom quintiles of DASH score. No association was observed with aMed score.

Conclusion: Adherence to the DASH diet (which involves higher intakes of whole grains, fruit, and vegetables; moderate amounts of low-fat dairy; and lower amounts of red or processed meats, desserts, and sweetened beverages) was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diet therapy*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors