Colorectal cancer has the second highest cancer-related mortality rate, with an estimated 881,000 deaths worldwide in 2018. The urgent need to reduce the incidence and mortality rate requires innovative strategies to improve prevention, early diagnosis, prognostic biomarkers, and treatment effectiveness. Caloric restriction (CR) is known as the most robust nutritional intervention that extends lifespan and delays the progression of age-related diseases, with remarkable results for cancer protection. Other forms of energy restriction, such as periodic fasting, intermittent fasting, or fasting-mimicking diets, with or without reduction of total calorie intake, recapitulate the effects of chronic CR and confer a wide range of beneficial effects towards health and survival, including anti-cancer properties. In this review, the known molecular, cellular, and organismal effects of energy restriction in oncology will be discussed. Energy-restriction-based strategies implemented in colorectal models and clinical trials will be also revised. While energy restriction constitutes a promising intervention for the prevention and treatment of several malignant neoplasms, further investigations are essential to dissect the interplay between fundamental aspects of energy intake, such as feeding patterns, fasting length, or diet composition, with all of them influencing health and disease or cancer effects. Currently, effectiveness, safety, and practicability of different forms of fasting to fight cancer, particularly colorectal cancer, should still be contemplated with caution.
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