Dietary Choline and Betaine Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer in an Iranian Population

Monireh Sadat Seyyedsalehi, Marta Rossi, Maryam Hadji, Hamideh Rashidian, Maryam Marzban, Maria Parpinel, Federica Fiori, Ahmad Naghibzadeh-Tahami, Yusuf A. Hannun, Chiara Luberto, Kazem Zendehdel, Paolo Boffetta

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Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing in low- and middle-income countries, likely due to changing lifestyle habits, including diet. We aimed to investigate the relationship between dietary betaine, choline, and choline-containing compounds and CRC risk. Methods: We analyzed data from a case–control study, including 865 CRC cases and 3206 controls from Iran. Detailed information was collected by trained interviewers using validated questionnaires. The intake of free choline, phosphocholine (Pcho), glycerophosphocholine (GPC), phosphatidylcholine (PtdCho), and sphingomyelin (SM), as well as of betaine was estimated from food frequency questionnaires and categorized into quartiles. The odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) of CRC for choline and betaine quartiles were calculated using multivariate logistic regression by adjusting for potential confounders. Results: We observed excess risk of CRC in the highest versus lowest intake of total choline (OR = 1.23, 95% CI 1.13, 1.33), GPC (OR = 1.13, 95% CI 1.00, 1.27), and SM (OR = 1.14, 95% CI 1.01, 1.28). The intake of betaine exerted an inverse association with CRC risk (OR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.83, 0.99). There was no association between free choline, Pcho, PtdCho, and CRC. Analyses stratified by gender showed an elevated OR of CRC in men for SM intake OR = 1.20, 95% CI 1.03, 1.40) and a significantly decreased CRC risk in women for betaine intake (OR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.73, 0.97). Conclusion: Dietary modifications leading to an increase in betaine sources and managing the use of animal products as references for SM or other choline types might contribute to decreasing the risk of CRC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2557
Number of pages12
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • betaine
  • carcinogen
  • choline
  • colorectal cancer
  • phosphocholine
  • sphingomyelin

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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