Nutrients and risk of colon cancer

Jinfu Hu, Carlo la Vecchia, Eva Negri, Les Mery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dietary fats are thought to be important in the etiology of colon cancer. However, the evidence linking them is inconclusive. Studies on dietary protein, cholesterol and carbohydrate and the risk of colon cancer are also inconsistent. This study examined the association between dietary intake of protein, fats, cholesterol and carbohydrates, and the risk of colon cancer. Mailed questionnaires were completed by 1731 individuals with histologically confirmed cases of colon cancer and 3097 population controls between 1994 and 1997 in seven Canadian provinces. Measurements included socio-economic status, lifestyle habits and diet. A 69-item food frequency questionnaire was used to provide data on eating habits from two years before the study. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed using unconditional logistic regression. The nutrients were categorized by quartiles based on the distributions among the controls. Intake of polyunsaturated fat, trans-fat and cholesterol were significantly associated with the risk of colon cancer; the ORs for the highest quartiles were 1.36 (95% CI, 1.02-1.80), 1.37 (95% CI, 1.10-1.71) and 1.42 (95% CI, 1.10-1.84), respectively. The association was stronger with proximal colon cancer (PCC). An increased risk was also observed with increasing intake of sucrose for both proximal and distal colon cancers; the ORs for the highest quartiles were 1.67 (95% CI, 1.22-2.29) for PCC and 1.58 (95% CI, 1.18-2.10) for distal colon cancer (DCC). An elevated risk of PCC was also found with increased lactose intake. Our findings provide evidence that a diet low in fat and sucrose could reduce the risk of various colon cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Carbohydrate
  • Cholesterol
  • Fat
  • Odds ratio
  • Protein
  • Unconditional logistic regression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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