Dietary fibre and colorectal cancer: A model for environment - Gene interactions

Graeme P. Young, Ying Hu, Richard K. Le Leu, Laura Vrbanac

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


As environmental factors are clearly associated with risk for colorectal cancer, we set out to model how dietary fibre, or the effects of its ingestion, might impact upon the complex events that characterise colorectal oncogenesis. The diverse nature of dietary fibre and its resultant fate in the gut is outlined. The evidence indicates that different types of fibre create different conditions in different regions of the gut. This is reflected in different effects on oncogenesis especially in animal models. Data from animal models show that insoluble fibre is protective. Evidence from human studies are not consistent, especially considering the interventional studies. However, all such studies have been dependent on biomarkers short of cancer formation, for measurement of an effect. The biological and molecular events characteristic of colorectal oncogenesis are reviewed in an effort to identify how fibre ingestion might regulate oncogenesis. While several mechanisms might account for protection, the results of fermentation and especially butyrate production provide examples of how genomic instability might be controlled. Activation of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest seem likely to be mechanisms that would enable correction of genomic events that drive oncogenesis. Butyrate itself can regulate gene expression by both epigenetic and direct effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-584
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Nutrition and Food Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Dietary fibre
  • Fermentation
  • Genomic instability
  • Review
  • Short-chain fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science

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