Alcohol intake and colorectal cancer risk by molecularly defined subtypes in a prospective study of older women

Anthony A. Razzak, Amy S. Oxentenko, Robert A. Vierkant, Lori S. Tillmans, Alice H. Wang, Daniel J. Weisenberger, Peter W. Laird, Charles F. Lynch, Kristin E. Anderson, Amy J. French, Robert W. Haile, Lisa J. Harnack, Susan L. Slager, Thomas C. Smyrk, Stephen N. Thibodeau, James R. Cerhan, Paul J. Limburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Increased alcohol consumption is a putative colorectal cancer (CRC) risk factor. However, existing data are less conclusive for women than men. Also, to date, relatively few studies have reported alcohol-related CRC risks based on molecularly defined tumor subtypes. We evaluated associations between alcohol intake and incident CRC, overall and by microsatellite instability [MSI high (MSI-H) or MSI low/microsatellite stable (MSI-L/MSS)], CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP positive or CIMP negative), and BRAF mutation (mutated or wild-type) status in the prospective, population-based Iowa Women's Health Study (IWHS; n = 41,836). Subjects were 55 to 69 years at baseline (1986), and exposure data were obtained by self-report. Incident CRCs were prospectively identified and archived, paraffin-embedded tissue specimens were collected from 732 representative cases, diagnosed through December 31, 2002. Multivariate Cox regression models were fit to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Among alcohol consumers, the median intake (range) was 3.4 (0.9-292.8) g/d. Compared with nonconsumers, alcohol intake levels of 3.4 g/d or less (RR = 1.00; 95% CI, 0.86-1.15) and more than 3.4 g/d (RR = 1.06; 95% CI, 0.91-1.24) were not significantly associated with overall CRC risk. Analyses based on alcohol intake levels of 30 g/d or less and more than 30 g/d or quartile distributions yielded similar risk estimates. Null associations were also observed between each alcohol intake level and the MSI-, CIMP- or, BRAF-defined CRC subtypes (P > 0.05 for each comparison). These data do not support an adverse effect from alcohol intake on CRC risk, overall or by specific molecularly defined subtypes, among older women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2035-2043
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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