Intake of polyphenols from cereal foods and colorectal cancer risk in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

Kristina Vingrys, Michael L. Mathai, Andrew J. McAinch, Julie K. Bassett, Maximilian de Courten, Lily Stojanovska, Lynne Millar, Graham G. Giles, Allison M. Hodge, Vasso Apostolopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cereal-derived polyphenols have demonstrated protective mechanisms in colorectal cancer (CRC) models; however, confirmation in human studies is lacking. Therefore, this study examined the association between cereal polyphenol intakes and CRC risk in the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS), a prospective cohort study in Melbourne, Australia that recruited participants between 1990 and 1994 to investigate diet–disease relationships. Methods: Using food frequency questionnaire diet data matched to polyphenol data, dietary intakes of alkylresorcinols, phenolic acids, lignans, and total polyphenols from cereals were estimated. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals for CRC risk were estimated for quintiles of intake with the lowest quintile as the comparison category, using multivariable adjusted Cox proportional hazards models with age as the time axis adjusted for sex, socio-economic status, alcohol consumption, fibre intake, country of birth, total energy intake, physical activity and smoking status. Results: From 35,245 eligible adults, mean (SD) age 54.7 (8.6) years, mostly female (61%) and Australian-born (69%), there were 1394 incident cases of CRC (946 colon cancers and 448 rectal cancers). Results for total cereal polyphenol intake showed reduced HRs in Q2 (HR: 0.80; 95% CI, 0.68–0.95) and Q4 (HR: 0.75; 95% CI, 0.62–0.90), and similar for phenolic acids. Alkylresorcinol intake showed reduced HR in Q3 (HR: 0.80; 95% CI, 0.67–0.95) and Q4 (HR: 0.79; 95% CI, 0.66–0.95). Conclusions: Overall, the present study showed little evidence of association between intakes of cereal polyphenols and CRC risk. Future investigations may be useful to understand associations between cereal-derived polyphenols and additional cancers in different populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19188-19202
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study
  • cereals
  • colorectal cancer
  • food frequency questionnaire
  • polyphenols

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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