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Prospective study on alcohol consumption and the risk of cancer of the colon and rectum in the Netherlands

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Author: Goldbohm, R.A. · Brandt, P.A. van den · Veer, P. van 't · Dorant, E. · Sturmans, F. · Hermus, R.J.J.
Institution: Instituut CIVO-Toxicologie en Voeding TNO
Source:Cancer Causes and Control, 2, 5, 95-104
Identifier: 65994
Keywords: Nutrition · Aged · Alcohol Drinking · Alcoholic Beverages · Beer · Cohort Studies · Colonic Neoplasms · Confounding Factors (Epidemiology) · Dose-Response Relationship, Drug · Ethanol · Female · Follow-Up Studies · Food Habits · Human · Male · Middle Age · Netherlands · Prospective Studies · Rectal Neoplasms · Risk Factors · Wine


The association between alcohol consumption and cancer of the colon and rectum was investigated in a prospective cohort study, conducted in the Netherlands from 1986 onwards among 120,852 men and women, aged 55 to 69 years. During 3.3 years of follow-up, 312 and 166 cases of colon and rectal cancer had accumulated, respectively. After exclusion of cases diagnosed in the first year of follow-up, the analysis was based on 217 incident cases of colon cancer (107 men and 110 women) and 113 cases of rectal cancer (75 men and 38 women). For colon cancer, no association with total intake of alcohol nor with the consumption of beer and wine, specifically, could be demonstrated; for liquor intake, a significant (P = 0.04) decreasing risk with increasing consumption was observed. For rectal cancer in men, positive trends were observed for total alcohol intake (P = 0.04), beer (P = 0.05), and liquor (P = 0.06). Results for rectal cancer in women were consistent with those in men, but data were too sparse to provide stable estimates. Simultaneous adjustment for beverage type and quantity appeared to strengthen the association of rectal cancer with drinking beer (relative rate (yes/no) = 2.0, 95 percent confidence interval = 1.1-3.9), although a dose-response effect was not observed. When alcohol intake from beer, wine, and liquor were included as continuous variables, the association was somewhat stronger for liquor than for beer, but none of the associations were statistically significant. It is concluded that consumption of alcoholic beverages (beer, in particular) is associated with an increased risk for rectal but not colon cancer. Chemicals/CAS: alcohol, 64-17-5; Ethanol, 64-17-5