Health warning

Heavy drinkers more likely to develop colorectal tumors

Sept 21, 2005 - Regular drinkers of spirits and those defined as heavy beer drinkers run a higher risk of developing colorectal tumors, according to a new study. Researchers also found wine drinkers may have a lower risk.


"Alcohol is pernicious with regard to colorectal" tumors, Dr. Joseph C. Anderson from Stony Brook University, New York, according to Reuters news service. "Lifestyle plays a role as genetics does in the development" of the tumors, also known as polyps.

Colorectal cancers are a major cause of death, but develop slowly over a period of several years. Before a true cancer develops, a growth of tissue or tumor usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp, which may eventually change into cancer. A polyp develops on the lining of the colon or rectum.

The research by Anderson and his associates was reported in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. They 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, they reported. 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.