Page last updated: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Heavy drinkers with the alcohol dehdrogenase 1C*1 gene are at greater risk of colorectal cancer
Within the Netherlands Cohort Study on diet and cancer, researchers investigated associations between total alcohol consumption, specific alcoholic beverage consumption and risk of colorectal cancer (CRC). Results indicated that drinking more than 30.0 g/day was positively associated with the risk of CRC (HR: 1.32, 95% CI: 1.06–1.65).

This large prospective study identified 1,573 cases of colorectal cancer. The key findings were a slight increase in risk for consumers of 30 or more grams/day of alcohol, about 2 1/2 typical US drinks, but no effect of smaller amounts. When adjusting for total alcohol intake, there were no differences from the type of beverage consumed: beer, wine, or spirits. There was a tendency for the increase in risk to be greater for rectosigmoid and rectal cancers than for those in the proximal colon.

The association with cancer occurring over an average follow up of 13 years was calculated from baseline alcohol intake, as no subsequent information on drinking was obtained from these subjects. Further, no information was available on the pattern of drinking (regular or binge) or on other potential risk factors such as folate intake, which in many studies mediates the effect of alcohol on cancer. Still, this study has confirmed a number of earlier studies showing that heavier drinking may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Source: Bongaerts BWC, van den Brandt PA, Goldbohm RA, de Goeij AFPM, Weijenberg MP. Alcohol consumption, type of alcoholic beverage and risk of colorectal cancer at specific subsites. Int J Cancer 2008;123:2411–2417.

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