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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Evidence regarding the association of dietary exposures with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk is not consistent with a few exceptions. Therefore, we conducted a diet-wide association study (DWAS) in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) to evaluate the associations between several dietary exposures with CRC risk. METHODS: The association of 92 food and nutrient intakes with CRC risk was assessed in 386,792 participants, 5,069 of whom developed incident CRC. Correction for multiple comparisons was performed using the false discovery rate, and emerging associations were examined in the Netherlands Cohort Study (NLCS). Multiplicative gene-nutrient interactions were also tested in EPIC based on known CRC-associated loci. RESULTS: In EPIC, alcohol, liquor/spirits, wine, beer/cider, soft drinks, and pork were positively associated with CRC, whereas milk, cheese, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, fruit, fibre, non-white bread, banana, and total protein intakes were inversely associated. Of these 20 associations, 13 were replicated in NLCS, for which a meta-analysis was performed, namely alcohol (summary HR per 1 SD increment in intake: 1.07; 95%CI:1.04-1.09), liquor/spirits (1.04; 1.02-1.06), wine (1.04;1.02-1.07), beer/cider (1.06;1.04-1.08), milk (0.95;0.93-0.98), cheese (0.96;0.94-0.99), calcium (0.93;0.90-0.95), phosphorus (0.92;0.90-0.95), magnesium (0.95;0.92-0.98), potassium (0.96;0.94-0.99), riboflavin (0.94;0.92-0.97), beta-carotene (0.96;0.93-0.98), and total protein (0.94;0.92-0.97). None of the gene-nutrient interactions were significant after adjustment for multiple comparisons. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings confirm a positive association for alcohol and an inverse association for dairy products and calcium with CRC risk, and also suggest a lower risk at higher dietary intakes of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, beta-carotene and total protein.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol

Publication Date



cohort study, colorectal cancer, epidemiology, nutrition