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Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Jun 15;167(12):1397-406. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn073. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Alcohol drinking and colorectal cancer in Japanese: a pooled analysis of results from five cohort studies.

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Department of Epidemiology and International Health, Research Institute, International Medical Center of Japan, Tokyo, Japan.


Colorectal cancer is an alcohol-related malignancy; however, the association appears to be stronger among Asian populations with a relatively high prevalence of the slow-metabolizing aldehyde dehydrogenase variant. To examine the association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer in Japanese, the authors analyzed original data from five cohort studies that measured alcohol intake using validated questionnaires at baseline. Hazard ratios were calculated in the individual studies, with adjustment for a common set of variables, and then combined using a random-effects model. During 2,231,010 person-years of follow-up (ranging variously from 1988 to 2004), 2,802 colorectal cancer cases were identified. In men, multivariate-adjusted pooled hazard ratios for alcohol intakes of 23-45.9 g/day, 46-68.9 g/day, 69-91.9 g/day, and > or =92 g/day, compared with nondrinking, were 1.42 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.21, 1.66), 1.95 (95% CI: 1.53, 2.49), 2.15 (95% CI: 1.74, 2.64), and 2.96 (95% CI: 2.27, 3.86), respectively (p for trend < 0.001). The association was evident for both the colon and the rectum. A significant positive association was also observed in women. One fourth of colorectal cancer cases in men were attributable to an alcohol intake of > or =23 g/day. An alcohol-colorectal cancer association seems to be more apparent in Japanese than in Western populations. Whether this difference can be ascribed to genetic or environmental factors needs to be clarified.

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