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JOURNAL: ACG 68th Annual Scientific Meeting: Abstract 48. Presented Oct. 14, 2003.
AUTHORS: Gurvinder Sethi
ABSTRACT: Patients who drink nine or more drinks made with distilled spirits a week for 10 years or more are about three times more likely to develop significant left-sided colorectal pathology than teetotalers.
A glass or two of wine a week, on the other hand, cuts the risk of neoplastic lesions by nearly two thirds.
COMMENTARY: All of the patients had a screening colonoscopy and were asked how much and for how long they smoked and drank. The researchers then subdivided the patients by type of alcohol beverage and number of drinks consumed per week over the past 10 years: 0 drinks a week corresponded to abstinence; one to eight drinks a week, moderate; and nine or more drinks a week, heavy.
Significant left-sided neoplastic lesions — defined as large, multiple villous adenomas, high-grade dysplasias or adenocarcinomas, distal to the splenic flexure — were found in 6.1% of the nondrinkers compared with 17.4% of those who drank at least nine glasses per week of spirits for more than 10 years.
A multivariate analysis that controlled for age, sex, smoking, weight, diet, exercise, family history, and education level showed heavy drinkers were 3.3 times more likely to develop colon cancer than nondrinkers (P < .003).
While moderate wine drinkers were 63% less likely to develop colon cancer (P < .01), heavier wine drinking was not protective (odds ratio, 0.83; P = .720.
Beer consumption appeared to have no effect on colon cancer risk, the study showed.
Nevertheless, drinking is not nearly as bad for your colon health as smoking, Dr. Rex pointed out. "Cigarette smoking is often overlooked in this regard, even by physicians. About 20% of cases of colon cancer can be attributed to it."