Revisit dietary fiber on colorectal cancer: butyrate and its role on prevention and treatment

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2015 Sep;34(3):465-78. doi: 10.1007/s10555-015-9578-9.


Colorectal cancer is still a major health problem worldwide. Based on the most recent released data by the World Health Organization GLOBOCAN in 2012, colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent type of cancer in males and the second in females. In 1999, it was published the first report showing evidence of a strong correlation between diet and cancer incidence, being its positive or negative impact intimately linked to dietary patterns. A diet rich in fiber is associated with a low risk of developing colorectal cancer. The fermentation of the dietary fiber by intestinal microflora results in production of butyrate, which plays a plurifunctional role on the colonocytes, and it has also been reported as a chemopreventive agent. However, there are limited studies focusing its anti-cancer potential. Here, we review the recent new insights that focus butyrate and its role in colorectal cancer prevention and treatment, from its synthesis, metabolism, and transport, through its involvement on several cancer-related signaling pathways, to the novel existing approaches for its clinical use.

Keywords: Butyrate; Cancer prevention; Cancer therapy; Colorectal cancer; Histone deacetylase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Butyrates / metabolism*
  • Butyrates / pharmacology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Dietary Fiber* / metabolism
  • Dietary Fiber* / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male


  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Fiber