Carlos A. Garay, MD | Authors

Chemoprevention of Colorectal Cancer: Dietary and Pharmacologic Approaches

January 01, 1999

Colorectal cancer is a major cause of death in the United States, where it accounts for approximately 57,000 deaths per year. Thus, the prevention of this disease would have a significant impact on public health. Chemoprevention is defined as the use of natural or pharmacologic agents to disrupt the process of carcinogenesis. Substances explored as chemopreventive agents in colorectal cancer include: (1) the nonsteroidal anti-inflamma-tory drugs (NSAIDS), which may inhibit the evolution and formation of adenomas by their inhibition of cyclooxygenase and decrease of prostaglandin synthesis; (2) antioxidants, such as vitamin E or C, which may modulate carcinogenic substances; and (3) folate and calcium, which may interfere with tumor cell growth and replication. Dietary intervention can be accomplished by decreasing fat intake and increasing fiber consumption, both of which have been linked to a lower incidence of colon cancer in multiple epidemiologic studies. This field is continuing to evolve. Hopefully, ongoing research efforts will offer a better understanding of the role of these and other substances in chemoprevention. This article summarizes the available data regarding dietary and pharmacologic approaches to colorectal cancer chemoprevention. [ONCOLOGY 1(13):89-98, 1999]