September 20, 2005

Beer and spirits boost colon tumor risk

By Will Boggs, MD

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Beer and spirits drinkers face
a higher risk of colorectal tumors, but wine drinkers may have
a lower risk, according to a report in the American Journal of

"Alcohol is pernicious with regard to colorectal" tumors,
Dr. Joseph C. Anderson from Stony Brook University, New York
told Reuters Health. "Lifestyle plays a role as genetics does
in the development" of these tumors.

Dr. Anderson and associates investigated the impact of
regular alcohol consumption on colorectal tumors in 2,291
patients undergoing screening colonoscopy.

Patients defined as heavy beer or spirits drinkers had more
than twice the risk of developing significant colorectal
tumors, compared with abstainers or moderate consumers, the
authors report. Moderate wine drinkers, on the other hand,
faced about half the risk experienced by abstainers.

Colorectal tumors were also associated with age older than
60 years, smoking and obesity, the report indicates.

The investigators note that "patients who regularly drink
spirits have an increased risk for significant colorectal
(tumors) and perhaps should be targeted for risk modification
by their gastroenterologist in addition to their primary care

In fact, Anderson noted, "I would target anyone who has
more than one beer or drink per day." He added that he and his
colleagues are currently comparing the effects of red and white

Red wine, "due to high levels of (the natural antioxidant)
resveratrol," he added, should be even more protective against
colorectal tumors than white wine.

SOURCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, September