Alcohol May Increase the Risk of Colon Cancer
The results of studies examining the association between alcohol intake and colon cancer have been inconsistent. Researchers assessed alcohol use and incident cases of colon cancer among participants of a national health and nutrition survey. Of 10,418 participants who were followed for 10 years, 111 developed colon cancer.
- In analyses adjusted for colon cancer risk factors, drinking an average of >=1 drinks per day, compared with abstinence, significantly increased the risk of developing colon cancer (relative risk [RR] 1.7).
- The risk of colon cancer increased as alcohol intake increased (from 0 drinks to <1 drink to >=1 drinks per day, P for trend=0.04).
- Regular drinking for >34 years, compared with abstinence, also significantly increased colon cancer risk (RR 1.7).
- In analyses stratified by type of alcohol, the increase in risk was significant for liquor, but not beer or wine, consumption.
The results of this study suggest that alcohol may increase the risk of colon cancer. Although the authors propose several plausible mechanisms, no specific effect of alcohol on colon cancer carcinogenesis is known. Nonetheless, additional studies should be conducted to confirm the observed association.Richard Saitz, MD, MPH
Su LJ, Arab L. Alcohol consumption and risk of colon cancer: evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey I Epidemiologic Follow-Up Study. Nutr and Cancer. 2004;50(2):111–119.