February 14, 2022

Diet and colorectal cancer risk

Higher dietary intake of antioxidant compounds found in fruits, vegetables, teas and spices was associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and intake was lower among Black participants, potentially contributing to colorectal cancer health disparities.

Polyphenols — antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, teas and spices — have promising anti-cancer properties. 

Martha Shrubsole, PhD, and colleagues examined the association between dietary polyphenols and colorectal cancer among participants in the Southern Community Cohort Study, an ongoing prospective study with a large percentage of Black participants that is designed to study the causes of cancer health disparities. 

Among 71,599 participants, the researchers found that higher dietary intake of total polyphenols and two subclasses (tyrosols, hyroxybenzoic acids) was associated with reduced colorectal cancer risk. The associations were consistent across subgroups based on sex, race, income and body mass index. 

Median polyphenol intake was lower for Black participants compared to white participants, which could contribute to the increased incidence of colorectal cancer among Black individuals in the United States, the researchers noted. 

Their report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supports further study of dietary polyphenols for reducing colorectal cancer risk and health disparities.

First author Landon Fike is a medical student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Other authors include Heather Munro, Danxia Yu, PhD, and Qi Dai, MD, PhD. The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute (grant CA202979).