International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research Critique 125: Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Colorectal Cancer; Potential Modification by Folate Intake
By International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research | 25 September 2013
The latest critique from The ISFAR considers research that looks at the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer
Many epidemiologic studies have shown a slight increase in the risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer to be associated with alcohol consumption.
Some have found that higher intakes of folic acid may attenuate such an increase in risk. A recent study was designed to evaluate the influence of alcohol consumption on the risk of colorectal cancer according to folic acid fortification period in the US.
The relation of alcohol intake to colorectal cancer in two prospective studies (the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study) was compared for a pre-fortification period (before 1998) with such risk estimates during the postfortification period, which began in 1998.
A total of 2,793 cases of invasive colorectal cancer were documented.
The authors concluded that their data supports an increase in colorectal cancer with high alcohol intake, and suggests that the risk may be lower in the post-fortification period due to higher folate in the US population.
Forum reviewers had some concerns about these conclusions, as they point out that no dose-response relation between alcohol and colorectal cancer was shown in either period, and in data since 1998 no significant relation is seen between alcohol and such cancers.
In fact, the authors of the present study state: “We also examined drinking pattern in relation to colorectal cancer risk; neither frequency of drinking nor quantity of drinking was associated with the risk of colorectal cancer.” They do not report their data upon which that statement is based.
Overall, the present paper does not answer the question as to the extent to which alcohol may relate to the risk of colorectal cancer, or if folate intake may modify any relation that may exist. Given that colorectal cancer and breast cancer in women are so common, it is important to evaluate how dietary folate and other nutrients may relate to such cancers.
Further research on the relation of alcohol to these cancers, and potentially modifying factors, is greatly needed.
To read the full critique, click here.
These critiques are published with the permission of The ISFAR.
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