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8 months ago
Can alcohol intake increase risk of colorectal cancer?

There was a time when it was believed that the number of people suffering from colorectal cancer in India was less than the numbers we saw in the west. The prime reason for this was the Indian diet which is rich in fibre. Lack of fibre in the western diet was considered to be one reason why they suffered from colorectal cancer more than Indians. But with changing times, globalisation, the advent of technology even the Indian diet pattern has seen a huge change — dependence on junk food, processed foods, sedentary lifestyle — even Indians have been predisposed to this cancer. It is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common in women. Here are few symptoms of colon cancer that you should know.

While lack of fibre and dependency of junk food is thought to be reasons that increase one’s chance of suffering from the cancer, less in said about alcohol intake and colorectal cancer. However, it is a known fact that vices like smoking and alcohol put one at risk of suffering from cancer. There are few studies that have tried to find a relation between alcohol intake and colorectal cancer.

In 2003 a study published in the journal Gut, done on a Danish population found an association between association between total alcohol intake and colorectal cancer, though a very weak association. The study included a random sample of 15 491 men and 13 641 women, aged 23—95 years. Incident cases of colorectal cancer were identified in the nationwide Danish Cancer Register. During a mean follow up of 14.7 years, it was observed that 411 people suffered from colon cancers while 202 had rectal cancers. It was observed that there was a relationship between alcohol and rectal cancer.

People who had more than 41 drinks a week had a relatively higher risk of suffering from rectal cancer by 2.2 percent as compared with non-drinkers. The study also pointed out that people who had more than 14 drinks of beer and spirits a week, but not wine, had a risk of developing rectal cancer by 3.5 percent as compared to non-drinkers, while those who drank the same amount of alcohol but including more than 30 percent of wine had a risk of 1.8 (1.0—3.2) of rectal cancer. However, there was no relationship between alcohol and colon cancer with effects of total alcohol, beer, wine, and spirits, and percentage of wine of total alcohol intake.

The study concluded that alcohol intake is associated with a significantly increased risk of rectal cancer but the risk seems to be reduced when the wine is included in the alcohol intake.

Image source: Shutterstock

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