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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Apr;71(4):512-518. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.271. Epub 2017 Jan 25.

No association of alcohol use and the risk of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease: data from a European Prospective cohort study (EPIC).

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Department of Gastroenterology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam, Germany.
Department of Gastroenterology, Instituto de Investigación Biomédica, Estrutura Organizativa de Xestión Integrada de Vigo, Vigo, Spain.
Norwich Medical School, Department of Medicine, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.
Department of Gastroenterology, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust, Norwich, UK.
Strangeways Research Laboratory, Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Department for Determinants of Chronic Diseases (DCD), National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Medical Centre, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Department of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark.
Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Unit, Cancer Research and Prevention Centre, Florence, Italy.
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, Unité XR-290, ISTNA-CNAM, Paris, France.
Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Division of Clinical Epidemiology, DKFZ-German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany.
Division of Epidemiology, Imperial College London, London, UK.



The role of long-term alcohol consumption for the risk of developing ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) is unclear. For the first time, to prospectively assess the role of pre-disease alcohol consumption on the risk of developing UC or CD.


Nested within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-IBD), incident UC and CD cases and matched controls where included. At recruitment, participants completed validated food frequency and lifestyle questionnaires. Alcohol consumption was classified as either: non-use, former, light (⩽0.5 and 1 drink per week), below the recommended limits (BRL) (⩽1 and 2 drinks per day), moderate (⩽2.5 and 5 drinks per day), or heavy use (>2.5 and >5 drinks per day) for women and men, respectively; and was expressed as consumption at enrolment and during lifetime. Conditional logistic regression was applied adjusting for smoking and education, taking light users as the reference.


Out of 262 451 participants in six countries, 198 UC incident cases/792 controls and 84 CD cases/336 controls were included. At enrolment, 8%/27%/32%/23%/11% UC cases and 7%/29%/40%/19%/5% CD cases were: non-users, light, BRL, moderate and heavy users, respectively. The corresponding figures for lifetime non-use, former, light, BRL, moderate and heavy use were: 3%/5%/23%/44%/19%/6% and 5%/2%/25%/44%/23%/1% for UC and CD cases, respectively. There were no associations between any categories of alcohol consumption and risk of UC or CD in the unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios.


There was no evidence of associations between alcohol use and the odds of developing either UC or CD.

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