Nutrients, foods, and colorectal cancer prevention

Gastroenterology. 2015 May;148(6):1244-60.e16. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2014.12.035. Epub 2015 Jan 6.


Diet has an important role in the development of colorectal cancer. In the past few decades, findings from extensive epidemiologic and experimental investigations have linked consumption of several foods and nutrients to the risk of colorectal neoplasia. Calcium, fiber, milk, and whole grains have been associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, and red meat and processed meat have been associated with an increased risk. There is substantial evidence for the potential chemopreventive effects of vitamin D, folate, fruits, and vegetables. Nutrients and foods also may interact, as a dietary pattern, to influence colorectal cancer risk. Diet likely influences colorectal carcinogenesis through several interacting mechanisms. These include the direct effects on immune responsiveness and inflammation, and the indirect effects of overnutrition and obesity-risk factors for colorectal cancer. Emerging evidence also implicates the gut microbiota as an important effector in the relationship between diet and cancer. Dietary modification therefore has the promise of reducing colorectal cancer incidence.

Keywords: Colorectal Cancer; Diet; Microbiota; Prevention.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Microbiota
  • Nutritional Status
  • Nutritive Value
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamins