Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common types of cancers worldwide. The incidence of sporadic CRC is lower in individuals below 50 years and increases with age, furthermore, it shows typical clinical, macroscopic and molecular differences between females and males. According to the results of epidemiological and molecular biology studies, the estradiol-regulating signaling pathway plays an important role in the development and prognosis of CRC, predominantly through estrogen receptor beta (ERβ), which is dominant in the colonic epithelium. Estradiol has multiple gastrointestinal effects, which were confirmed by in vitro and in vivo studies on histologically intact and cancerous cells as well. In contrast to estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), the activation of ERβ inhibits cell proliferation and enhances apoptosis, nevertheless, the expression of estrogen receptor beta can change both during physiological ageing and in colorectal disorders. The ERβ-mediated antitumour effects of estradiol may be exerted through inhibition of cell proliferation, stimulation of apoptosis, inhibition of metastasis formation and its anti-inflammatory activity. Based on the results of cell culture and animal studies, selective modulators of estrogen receptor beta (selective estrogen receptor modulator [SERM]) and phytoestrogens can be new, additional therapeutic options in the treatment of colorectal diseases characterized by chronic inflammation and uncontrolled cell proliferation.
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