Fiber, Fat, and Colorectal Cancer: New Insight into Modifiable Dietary Risk Factors

Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2019 Dec 2;21(11):62. doi: 10.1007/s11894-019-0725-2.


Purpose of review: To review recent data on the role and interactions of fiber and fat as dietary risk factors associated with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in humans.

Recent findings: Fiber intake shows convincing and linear dose-response negative correlation with CRC risk. Dietary fiber stimulates butyrogenic activity of the gut microbiota, providing high amounts of butyrate that shows extensive anti-neoplastic effects. A high-fat diet promotes CRC risk through stimulated bile acid metabolism, facilitating bile acid conversion by the gut microbiota to tumor-promoting deoxycholic acid. Comprehensive interactions of these microbial metabolites are likely to underlie mechanisms driving diet-dependent CRC risk in different populations, but require further experimental investigation. Dietary fiber and fat shape the composition and metabolic function of the gut microbiota, resulting in altered amounts of butyrate and deoxycholic acid in the colon. Fiber supplementation and restriction of fat intake represent promising strategies to reduce CRC risk in healthy individuals.

Keywords: Bile acids; Butyrate; Colorectal cancer risk; Fat; Fiber; Gut microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber