Design of the Building Research in CRC prevention (BRIDGE-CRC) trial: a 6-month, parallel group Mediterranean diet and weight loss randomized controlled lifestyle intervention targeting the bile acid-gut microbiome axis to reduce colorectal cancer risk among African American/Black adults with obesity

Trials. 2023 Feb 15;24(1):113. doi: 10.1186/s13063-023-07115-4.


Background: Among all racial/ethnic groups, people who identify as African American/Blacks have the second highest colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence in the USA. This disparity may exist because African American/Blacks, compared to other racial/ethnic groups, have a higher prevalence of risk factors for CRC, including obesity, low fiber consumption, and higher intakes of fat and animal protein. One unexplored, underlying mechanism of this relationship is the bile acid-gut microbiome axis. High saturated fat, low fiber diets, and obesity lead to increases in tumor promoting secondary bile acids. Diets high in fiber, such as a Mediterranean diet, and intentional weight loss may reduce CRC risk by modulating the bile acid-gut microbiome axis. The purpose of this study is to test the impact of a Mediterranean diet alone, weight loss alone, or both, compared to typical diet controls on the bile acid-gut microbiome axis and CRC risk factors among African American/Blacks with obesity. Because weight loss or a Mediterranean diet alone can reduce CRC risk, we hypothesize that weight loss plus a Mediterranean diet will reduce CRC risk the most.

Methods: This randomized controlled lifestyle intervention will randomize 192 African American/Blacks with obesity, aged 45-75 years to one of four arms: Mediterranean diet, weight loss, weight loss plus Mediterranean diet, or typical diet controls, for 6 months (48 per arm). Data will be collected at baseline, mid-study, and study end. Primary outcomes include total circulating and fecal bile acids, taurine-conjugated bile acids, and deoxycholic acid. Secondary outcomes include body weight, body composition, dietary change, physical activity, metabolic risk, circulating cytokines, gut microbial community structure and composition, fecal short-chain fatty acids, and expression levels of genes from exfoliated intestinal cells linked to carcinogenesis.

Discussion: This study will be the first randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of a Mediterranean diet, weight loss, or both on bile acid metabolism, the gut microbiome, and intestinal epithelial genes associated with carcinogenesis. This approach to CRC risk reduction may be especially important among African American/Blacks given their higher risk factor profile and increased CRC incidence.

Trial registration: NCT04753359 . Registered on 15 February 2021.

Keywords: Bile acids; Cancer health disparities; Colorectal cancer; Gut microbiome; Mediterranean diet; Nutrition; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Black or African American
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss


  • Bile Acids and Salts

Associated data