Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and colorectal cancer

Postgrad Med J. 2017 Mar;93(1097):153-158. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2016-134383. Epub 2016 Nov 16.


As a significant cause of cancer death worldwide, colorectal cancer (CRC) is still one of the most common cancers in the world. The most efficient strategies to reduce CRC incidence include identifying risk factors for CRC and performing a preventive colonoscopy in high-risk populations. Some well-established risk factors for CRC development include hereditary syndromes and inflammatory bowel disease. Of note, in recent years, attention has been given to new evidence indicating that more than 75%-95% of CRC occurs in individuals with little or no genetic risk. For these individuals, the risk for CRC is associated with their lifestyle and dietary factors, including central obesity, overweight and physical inactivity. Recently, evidence demonstrated a connection between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and CRC. Insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome (MetS) are common risks that NAFLD and colorectal neoplasms share. The incidence of NAFLD is increasing in parallel with an increasing prevalence of MetS and obesity. Consequently, the question arises: will the incidence of CRC increase together with this dramatic increase in obesity, MetS and ultimately NAFLD prevalence? Recent studies of adenomatous polyps, CRC and NAFLD are discussed in this manuscript.

Keywords: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; colorectal cancer; metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors