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Curr Colorectal Cancer Rep. 2017 Dec;13(6):429-439. doi: 10.1007/s11888-017-0389-y. Epub 2017 Sep 4.

Diet, Gut Microbiota, and Colorectal Cancer Prevention: A Review of Potential Mechanisms and Promising Targets for Future Research.

Song M1,2,3, Chan AT1,2,4,5.

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Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Division of Gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.
Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA.
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.
Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Cambridge, MA.


Diet plays an important role in the development of colorectal cancer. Emerging data have implicated the gut microbiota in colorectal cancer. Diet is a major determinant for the gut microbial structure and function. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that alterations in gut microbes and their metabolites may contribute to the influence of diet on the development of colorectal cancer. We review several major dietary factors that have been linked to gut microbiota and colorectal cancer, including major dietary patterns, fiber, red meat and sulfur, and obesity. Most of the epidemiologic evidence derives from cross-sectional or short-term, highly controlled feeding studies that are limited in size. Therefore, high-quality large-scale prospective studies with dietary data collected over the life course and comprehensive gut microbial composition and function assessed well prior to neoplastic occurrence are critically needed to identify microbiome-based interventions that may complement or optimize current diet-based strategies for colorectal cancer prevention and management.


Fusobacterium nucleatum; Gut microbiome; antibiotics; colorectal neoplasia; dietary pattern; fiber; hydrogen sulfide; obesity; processed meat; red meat; short-chain fatty acid; sulfur; sulfur-reducing bacteria

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