Colorectal Cancer Risk

Last Updated: December 6, 2022

Some dietary supplements are thought to reduce the risk of colonic cancer, and this is assessed by either epidemiological research showing a relationship or studies that note how supplementation can reduce a known biomarker of colon cancer.


Behind lung cancer, colorectal cancer[1] is the most common cause of cancer death and the fourth most common cancer after lung, breast, and prostate cancer. There were around 1.8 million cases of colorectal cancer worldwide in 2018, resulting in close to 900,000 deaths. Most colorectal cancer cases develop from benign tumors (adenoma) that undergo genetic changes[2] over time (at least 10 years) to ultimately become cancerous (carcinoma). This process, often called the adenoma-carcinoma sequence, is depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The adenoma-carcinoma sequence

image Reference: Nguyen et al. Oncol Lett 2018 Jul.[3]

Early detection[4] through colonoscopy screenings is associated with reduced risk of recurrent colorectal cancer and death, and removal of colorectal adenomas appear to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer mortality[5] and incidence[6]. However, recurrence is common[7].

Examine Database: Colorectal Cancer Risk
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  1. ^Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal AGlobal cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countriesCA Cancer J Clin.(2018 Nov)
  2. ^Carvalho B, Sillars-Hardebol AH, Postma C, Mongera S, Terhaar Sive Droste J, Obulkasim A, van de Wiel M, van Criekinge W, Ylstra B, Fijneman RJ, Meijer GAColorectal adenoma to carcinoma progression is accompanied by changes in gene expression associated with ageing, chromosomal instability, and fatty acid metabolismCell Oncol (Dordr).(2012 Feb)
  3. ^Nguyen HT, Duong HQThe molecular characteristics of colorectal cancer: Implications for diagnosis and therapyOncol Lett.(2018 Jul)
  4. ^Kaminski MF, Wieszczy P, Rupinski M, Wojciechowska U, Didkowska J, Kraszewska E, Kobiela J, Franczyk R, Rupinska M, Kocot B, Chaber-Ciopinska A, Pachlewski J, Polkowski M, Regula JIncreased Rate of Adenoma Detection Associates With Reduced Risk of Colorectal Cancer and DeathGastroenterology.(2017 Jul)
  5. ^Zauber AG, Winawer SJ, O'Brien MJ, Lansdorp-Vogelaar I, van Ballegooijen M, Hankey BF, Shi W, Bond JH, Schapiro M, Panish JF, Stewart ET, Waye JDColonoscopic polypectomy and long-term prevention of colorectal-cancer deathsN Engl J Med.(2012 Feb 23)
  6. ^Cross AJ, Robbins EC, Pack K, Stenson I, Kirby PL, Patel B, Rutter MD, Veitch AM, Saunders BP, Duffy SW, Wooldrage KLong-term colorectal cancer incidence after adenoma removal and the effects of surveillance on incidence: a multicentre, retrospective, cohort studyGut.(2020 Jan 17)
  7. ^Shi X, Yang Z, Wu Q, Fan DColorectal adenoma recurrence rates among post-polypectomy patients in the placebo-controlled groups of randomized clinical trials: a meta-analysisOncotarget.(2017 May 25)
Examine Database References
  1. Curcumin - He ZY, Shi CB, Wen H, Li FL, Wang BL, Wang JUpregulation of p53 expression in patients with colorectal cancer by administration of curcuminCancer Invest.(2011 Mar)
  2. Reishi - Oka S, Tanaka S, Yoshida S, Hiyama T, Ueno Y, Ito M, Kitadai Y, Yoshihara M, Chayama KA water-soluble extract from culture medium of Ganoderma lucidum mycelia suppresses the development of colorectal adenomasHiroshima J Med Sci.(2010 Mar)
  3. Vitamin E - Lonn E, Bosch J, Yusuf S, Sheridan P, Pogue J, Arnold JM, Ross C, Arnold A, Sleight P, Probstfield J, Dagenais GR, HOPE and HOPE-TOO Trial InvestigatorsEffects of long-term vitamin E supplementation on cardiovascular events and cancer: a randomized controlled trialJAMA.(2005 Mar 16)
  4. Vitamin E - Lee IM, Cook NR, Gaziano JM, Gordon D, Ridker PM, Manson JE, Hennekens CH, Buring JEVitamin E in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer: the Women's Health Study: a randomized controlled trialJAMA.(2005 Jul 6)
  5. Vitamin D - Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, Grant WB, Mohr SB, Lipkin M, Newmark HL, Giovannucci E, Wei M, Holick MFOptimal vitamin D status for colorectal cancer prevention: a quantitative meta analysisAm J Prev Med.(2007 Mar)
  6. Ginger - Zick SM, Turgeon DK, Vareed SK, Ruffin MT, Litzinger AJ, Wright BD, Alrawi S, Normolle DP, Djuric Z, Brenner DEPhase II study of the effects of ginger root extract on eicosanoids in colon mucosa in people at normal risk for colorectal cancerCancer Prev Res (Phila).(2011 Nov)
  7. Curcumin - Robert E Carroll, Richard V Benya, Danielle Kim Turgeon, Shaiju Vareed, Malloree Neuman, Luz Rodriguez, Madhuri Kakarala, Philip M Carpenter, Christine McLaren, Frank L Meyskens Jr, Dean E BrennerPhase IIa clinical trial of curcumin for the prevention of colorectal neoplasiaCancer Prev Res (Phila).(2011 Mar)
  8. Vitamin E - Buring JEAspirin prevents stroke but not MI in women; vitamin E has no effect on CV disease or cancerCleve Clin J Med.(2006 Sep)
  9. Panax Ginseng (Korean Ginseng) - Yun TK, Choi SYPreventive effect of ginseng intake against various human cancers: a case-control study on 1987 pairsCancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.(1995 Jun)
  10. Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) - Vollset SE, Clarke R, Lewington S, Ebbing M, Halsey J, Lonn E, Armitage J, Manson JE, Hankey GJ, Spence JD, Galan P, Bønaa KH, Jamison R, Gaziano JM, Guarino P, Baron JA, Logan RF, Giovannucci EL, den Heijer M, Ueland PM, Bennett D, Collins R, Peto R, B-Vitamin Treatment Trialists' CollaborationEffects of folic acid supplementation on overall and site-specific cancer incidence during the randomised trials: meta-analyses of data on 50,000 individualsLancet.(2013 Mar 23)
  11. Folic Acid (Vitamin B9) - Moazzen S, Dolatkhah R, Tabrizi JS, Shaarbafi J, Alizadeh BZ, de Bock GH, Dastgiri SFolic acid intake and folate status and colorectal cancer risk: A systematic review and meta-analysis.Clin Nutr.(2018-Dec)