Page last updated: April 19, 2012
Moderate alcohol consumption might protect against colorectal cancer

A study in June’s issue of Diseases of the Colon & Rectum investigates the association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer.
The authors state that “Alcohol is considered to be a co-carcinogen or a tumor promoter for some cancers, and various studies have shown a linear dose-dependent association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer. However, a few studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption may have a protective effect, similar to that in cardiovascular disease’”
Dr Niki Kontou and colleagues from Greece evaluated the relationship of colorectal cancer to quantity and type of alcohol consumed. A total of 250 consecutive patients with a first diagnosis of colorectal cancer were matched for age group, and sex with 250 controls recruited from the community. The mean age was 63 years for the patient group, and 55 years for the control group.
Questionnaires were administered by trained interviewers to assess socio demographic, clinical, and lifestyle characteristics, in addition to dietary habits and quantity and type of alcoholic beverages usually consumed during the preceding year.  Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated with the MedDietScore.
The team noted that with intake of less than 12 g of alcohol per day as the reference, moderate alcohol intake was associated with a significantly decreased likelihood of colorectal cancer in men, and in women.
The researchers found that a high alcohol intake was associated with an increased likelihood, which was significant in men but not in women. Drinking red wine was associated with reduced odds of colorectal cancer, significant in men but not in women. The team observed that none of the associations between other beverage types and colorectal cancer were significant. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was independently associated with lower odds of colorectal cancer overall, in men, and in women.
Dr Kontou’s team commented, “The association between quantity of alcohol consumed and the presence of colorectal cancer followed a J-shaped curve... While demonstrating the detrimental effect of consuming large amounts of alcohol, the results of this study suggest that moderate alcohol consumption exerts a protective effect on colorectal cancer in both men and women, possibly related to the effects of red wine.”
Source: Dis Colon Rectum 2012: 55(6): 703–710

 

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