Post-diagnosis dietary factors, supplement use and colorectal cancer prognosis: A Global Cancer Update Programme (CUP Global) systematic literature review and meta-analysis

Int J Cancer. 2024 Aug 1;155(3):445-470. doi: 10.1002/ijc.34906. Epub 2024 May 1.


The role of diet in colorectal cancer prognosis is not well understood and specific lifestyle recommendations are lacking. We searched for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and longitudinal observational studies on post-diagnosis dietary factors, supplement use and colorectal cancer survival outcomes in PubMed and Embase from inception until 28th February 2022. Random-effects dose-response meta-analyses were conducted when at least three studies had sufficient information. The evidence was interpreted and graded by the CUP Global independent Expert Committee on Cancer Survivorship and Expert Panel. Five RCTs and 35 observational studies were included (30,242 cases, over 8700 all-cause and 2100 colorectal cancer deaths, 3700 progression, recurrence, or disease-free events). Meta-analyses, including 3-10 observational studies each, were conducted for: whole grains, nuts/peanuts, red and processed meat, dairy products, sugary drinks, artificially sweetened beverages, coffee, alcohol, dietary glycaemic load/index, insulin load/index, marine omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, supplemental calcium, circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and all-cause mortality; for alcohol, supplemental calcium, circulating 25(OH)D and colorectal cancer-specific mortality; and for circulating 25(OH)D and recurrence/disease-free survival. The overall evidence was graded as 'limited'. The inverse associations between healthy dietary and/or lifestyle patterns (including diets that comprised plant-based foods), whole grains, total, caffeinated, or decaffeinated coffee and all-cause mortality and the positive associations between unhealthy dietary patterns, sugary drinks and all-cause mortality provided 'limited-suggestive' evidence. All other exposure-outcome associations provided 'limited-no conclusion' evidence. Additional, well-conducted cohort studies and carefully designed RCTs are needed to develop specific lifestyle recommendations for colorectal cancer survivors.

Keywords: colorectal cancer survival; diet; evidence grading; food; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives


  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D