Page last updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Moderate alcohol consumption protects against colorectal adenomas
Gregory Austin of the university of North Carolina and lead researcher of ‘Moderate Alcohol Consumption Protects Against Colorectal Adenomas’ examined effects of alcohol consumption on the risk of colorectal adenomas (polyps) and found that moderate amounts of alcohol may have a protective effect against colorectal adenomas, a potential precursor to colorectal cancer.

To evaluate risk factors for colorectal adenomas, researchers implemented a case-control study of 725 eligible patients - 203 case and 522 controls. After undergoing a colonoscopy, participants were divided into five groups based on the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week: 1) 0 drinks per week; 2) >0 and <2 drinks per week; 3) 2 to <7 drinks per week (moderate drinkers); 4) 7 to <14 drinks per week; and 5) =14 drinks per week. The results were adjusted for the effects age, gender, body mass index (BMI), and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, race, and smoking status.

When compared to non-drinkers and heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers (between >0 and <2 and 2 to<7 drinks per week) had the lowest adjusted probability of having an adenoma. Using moderate drinkers (>0 and <2 drinks per week) as the reference group, researchers found that non-drinkers were 41% more likely to have a colorectal adenoma. Patients consuming 7 to 14 drinks per week were 65% more likely to have an adenoma, and those consuming more than 14 drinks per week were two and a half times more likely to have an adenoma.

“Consuming alcohol within a moderate limit may be beneficial to the colon, but we cannot assume that the rate of alcohol consumption is the only factor,” said Gregory Austin. “It is vital that researchers take a broader approach into understanding the development of colorectal adenomas and the range of effects that various lifestyle choices or habits may have.”

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