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Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2011 Aug;25(4-5):555-68. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2011.09.004.

Chemoprevention of colorectal cancer: a role for ursodeoxycholic acid, folate and hormone replacement treatment?

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Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, Bologna, Italy.


Chemoprevention of colorectal cancer has been an intense focus of research for many years. Among the possible candidate agents, ursodeoxycholic acid, folate, and hormone replacement therapy have been recently investigated with conflicting data. Experimental evidence shows that UDCA, folate and HRT target critical molecular events important for colon carcinogenesis. In animal models of sporadic, familial and inflammatory-associated cancers, they have shown to reduce colonic neoplasms. Observational studies have shown compelling evidence of possible protective effects of all three agents. However, randomised-controlled studies have yielded disappointing results, raising the issues of possible harm rather than protective effect for some of them. In this review experimental and clinical data on UDCA, folate and HRT as potential chemopreventive agents are discussed.

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