The interaction between dietary fiber and fat and risk of colorectal cancer in the women’s health initiative

Sandi L. Navarro, Marian L. Neuhouser, Ting Yuan David Cheng, Lesley F. Tinker, James M. Shikany, Linda Snetselaar, Jessica A. Martinez, Ikuko Kato, Shirley A.A. Beresford, Robert S. Chapkin, Johanna W. Lampe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Combined intakes of specific dietary fiber and fat subtypes protect against colon cancer in animal models. We evaluated associations between self-reported individual and combinations of fiber (insoluble, soluble, and pectins, specifically) and fat (omega-6, omega-3, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), specifically) and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in the Women’s Health Initiative prospective cohort (n = 134,017). During a mean 11.7 years (1993-2010), 1952 incident CRC cases were identified. Cox regression models computed multivariate adjusted hazard ratios to estimate the association between dietary factors and CRC risk. Assessing fiber and fat individually, there was a modest trend for lower CRC risk with increasing intakes of total and insoluble fiber (p-trend 0.09 and 0.08). An interaction (p = 0.01) was observed between soluble fiber and DHA + EPA, with protective effects of DHA + EPA with lower intakes of soluble fiber and an attenuation at higher intakes, however this association was no longer significant after correction for multiple testing. These results suggest a modest protective effect of higher fiber intake on CRC risk, but not in combination with dietary fat subtypes. Given the robust results in preclinical models and mixed results in observational studies, controlled dietary interventions with standardized intakes are needed to better understand the interaction of specific fat and fiber subtypes on colon biology and ultimately CRC susceptibility in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number779
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Butyrate
  • Colorectal cancer
  • DHA
  • EPA
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Omega-3
  • Pectin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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