Alcohol Ups Colorectal Cancer Risk: Family Matters

The research showing that alcohol increases the risk of colorectal cancer is clear. But now a large new study suggests that people who have a family history of colorectal cancer may be especially susceptible to the effects of alcohol increasing their risk of the cancer.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and you can read the abstract here. (One of the authors, Harvard University researcher Edward Giovannucci, spoke at last year’s AICR Research Conference.)

In the study, researchers looked at alcohol consumption patterns among approximately 135,000 men and women, starting in 1980 (for the women) and 1986 (for the men). Every few years the participants answered questionnaires about how much alcohol they drank and reported whether they had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

After following the participants through 2006, the study first looked at the whole population. It found that those who drank the most alcohol — over 30 grams of alcohol per day on average, which is about 2 drinks – had an increased risk of colon cancer when compared to those who didn’t drink any alcohol. Continue reading


Teen Habits and Future Cancer Risk

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update looks at how what teens eat, drink and weigh may influence their future cancer risk.  The story focuses on girls’ lifestyle habits and future breast cancer risk and the research is intriguing, but just emerging. Some of the strongest evidence relates to drinking alcohol.

This topic is part of a bigger picture in research on cancer risk, where scientists look at risk over a person’s life course. The hypothesis is that many cancers can take years – often decades – to develop and along the way, there are certain times when our diet and other lifestyle habits can prevent or push it along.

A few of the studies investigating this topic are funded by AICR; check back to see their findings.


Drinking, Aging, and Cancer

Today’s issue of Cancer Research Update reports on an interesting new study about how our friends and family have a lot to do with our alcohol habits. It looks like who we socialize with – our social network up to three degrees of separation – influence if we drink heavily or nothing.

Our chromosomes: the lit up regions are telomeres.

For cancer prevention, along with other chronic diseases, the amount of alcohol people drink is important. AICR’s expert report found that drinking any amount of alcohol increases the risk for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus and breast, and colorectal (in men): The more we drink; the higher the risk.

Today, at the American Association for Cancer Research annual conference, researchers presented a study that may help explain why. It has to do with the sections of DNA at the end of a chomosome, called telomeres. Scientists know that as we age, telomeres get shorter and shorter until the cell dies. Also, shorter telomeres are linked with increased cancer risk.

The new study found that telomere length was significantly shorter among a group of heavy drinks (22 percent consumed four or more alcoholic drinks per day) than those of a comparison group. You can read the release here.

Continue reading