News at Medicine - February 2012 - Study looks at relationship of selected micronutrients and the risk of colorectal cancer

Study looks at relationship of selected micronutrients and the risk of colorectal cancer
February 2, 2012
A new study by researchers in Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine presents evidence that dietary intake of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, riboflavin and folate are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. The study also indicated that dietary intake of iron may be associated with a higher risk of this disease.
The study, titled Reported Intake of Selected Micronutrients and Risk of Colorectal Cancer: Results from a Large Population-based Case-control Study in Newfoundland, Labrador and Ontario, Canada, was published in Anticancer Research and featured on the site, an index of articles that matter in the daily lives of physicians and other healthcare professionals. 

Graduate students Zhuoyu Sun and Yun Zhu, supervised by Drs. Peter Wang and Barbara Roebothan, Division of Community Health and Humanities, are the first authors on this study. It is the latest in a number of studies related to the work of the Newfoundland and Ontario Colorectal Cancer Study, which has linked a wide range of diet and lifestyle factors to colorectal cancer.

“The students did most of the work on this study,” said Dr. Wang. “I have been very lucky to work with a group of outstanding students.”

Ms. Zhu said that a remarkable finding in this study was the strong positive association between iron intake and colorectal cancer risk, with the risk strongly increased in the highest quintile of iron intake.

Dr. Wang said this study had a number of strengths. “Particularly, it simultaneously covered a series of micronutrients, which enabled easy comparison between roles of the different micronutrients in colorectal cancer carcinogenesis. The sample size of this study was relatively large, thus some associations that would be undetectable in smaller studies would be observed.”

Most importantly, said Dr. Wang, previous findings about the protective effects of micronutrients were confined to a specific study population, which makes it difficult to generalize the results. “I this study, we conducted pooled analyses of the population of two Canadian provinces to investigate the associations of selected micronutrients and colorectal cancer risk, and hence to make conclusions about specific micronutrients having possible preventive effects on colorectal cancer.”