Is dietary fibre truly protective against colon cancer? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Dec;69(8):904-915. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2018.1446917. Epub 2018 Mar 8.


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. Growing evidence shows that about 47% of cases of colorectal cancer can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the association between dietary fibre intake and the risk of colon cancer. We performed a structured computer search on PubMed, including epidemiological studies reporting results of dietary fibre intake and risk of colon cancer in women or men. We compared subjects exposed to the highest versus the lowest consumption. The search strategy identified 376 papers. After screening, 25 datasets were included in our meta-analysis. Results suggest a protective role of dietary fibre intake on colon cancer risk ES = 0.74 (95% CI = 0.67-0.82), p value = .000, but, moderate statistical heterogeneity (χ2 = 42.73, p value = .011) was found. Due to the high mortality of colorectal cancer, it is important to identify effective preventive measures, especially those of a healthy lifestyle, such as a healthy diet.

Keywords: Dietary fibre; cancer risk; colon cancer; dietary intake; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors


  • Dietary Fiber