The protective effect of consuming polyphenols on colorectal cancer risk in Japan

Shoichiro Tsugane is investigating the role of polyphenols in colorectal cancer development using molecular epidemiologic studies

  • Topic: Colorectal cancer
  • Institution: National Cancer Centre (Japan)
  • Country: Japan
  • Status: Ongoing
Researcher: Shoichiro Tsugane


Polyphenols are plant-based substances present in a wide range of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, wholegrain cereals, cocoa, soya beans, tea, coffee and wine. Evidence from experimental studies suggests that certain polyphenol substances may protect against the development of colorectal cancer, but studies in humans have so far produced inconclusive results. Furthermore, high-quality data from prospective cohorts relating polyphenols and their metabolism to colorectal cancer in Asian populations are lacking.

Aims and objectives

We propose to perform a comprehensive analysis using a newly developed analytical method based on mass spectrometry to investigate how blood levels of 35 polyphenols are associated with the development of colorectal cancer in a Japanese population.

How it will be done

We will investigate how pre-diagnostic levels of blood polyphenols are associated with colorectal cancer in individuals enrolled in the Japan Public Health Center (JPHC) study, a cohort of more than 140,000 participants from 11 areas of Japan. We will measure blood levels of 35 polyphenols in 416 individuals who developed colorectal cancer, and compare levels with 831 participants without a cancer diagnosis.

Potential impact

The proposed study would be the most comprehensive investigation of polyphenols and colorectal cancer ever undertaken in an Asian population. Findings from our study may lead to the identification of novel biological pathways relevant for colorectal cancer development, and the identification of promising targets for prevention of this common cancer.