Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Sugar, fat, and the risk of colorectal cancer.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 23 November 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:1467
  1. J B Bristol,
  2. P M Emmett,
  3. K W Heaton,
  4. R C Williamson


    The habitual diet of 50 patients with large bowel cancer, as assessed by a dietary history method, was compared with that of 50 closely matched controls. Patients were included only if their symptoms were unlikely to have changed previous eating habits. The mean daily intakes of all major nutrient classes and of dietary fibre were estimated. Patients with large bowel cancer consumed 16% more energy than controls (mean (SEM) daily intake 9.92 (0.41) v 8.56 (0.32) MJ (2370 (98) v 2046 (76) kcal), respectively; p less than 0.0001), mainly in the form of carbohydrate (21% more; 282.6 (13.7) v 233.4 (10.5) g; p less than 0.0001) and fat (14% more; 100.8 (4.3) v 88.4 (3.2) g; p less than 0.001). The extra carbohydrate was largely in the form of sugars depleted in fibre and the extra fat as combinations of fat and such sugars. As the selection criteria used make it unlikely that this eating pattern was caused by the disease the data suggest that a high intake of sugars depleted in fibre and fat predisposes to the development of large bowel cancer.