The association of animal-origin food consumption and cooking patterns with colorectal cancer (CRC) risk was evaluated in a cohort of 73,224 participants of the Shanghai Women's Health Study. After a mean follow-up time of 7.4 yr, 394 incident cases of CRC (colon = 236; rectal = 158) were diagnosed. Overall, no association was found between the risk of CRC and intake of total meat and total fish. Eel (P(trend) = 0.01), shrimp (P(trend) = 0.06), and shellfish (P(trend) = 0.04) consumption were positively associated with CRC risk. High egg intake and high intake of total cholesterol were also related to risk of CRC (RR for the highest vs. lowest quintiles of intake were 1.4 (95% CI = 1.1-2.0) for eggs and 1.6 (95% CI = 1.1-2.3) for cholesterol). Milk intake was inversely associated with the risk of colon cancer (P(trend) = 0.05). Common Chinese cooking practices except the smoking method of cooking were not related to CRC risk. The latter was positively associated with colon cancer (RR = 1.4 for ever vs. never, 95% CI = 1.1-1.9). A possible role of cholesterol and environmental pollution in the etiology of CRC was suggested.