Drinking beer and alcohol increases the risk of colorectal tumours, while drinking wine in moderation lowers the risk, according to a study.
The study, conducted by Joseph C. Anderson, M.D. and colleagues at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, was meant to examine the impact of regular alcohol consumption on the detection of significant colorectal neoplasia in a screening population.
In the study, 2,291 patients were subject to a survey of drinking habits and a colonoscopic screening for colorectal neoplasia. Colorectal neoplasia is defined as a condition that is at least in partly characterized by the presence of new growths or tumours including adenocarcinoma, high-grade dysplasia, villous tissue, adenomas 1 cm or greater and multiple (>2) adenomas of any size.
Researchers found that those patients who drank more than eight drinks of alcohol or beer per week were more than twice likely to have colorectal neoplasia compared with those who did not drink any servings. It was also found that 20 percent of patients who drank more than eight drinks of alcohol or beer per week had significant colorectal neoplasia.
The results should not be surprising because alcohol is a known carcinogen that can stimulate the growth of cancer. Alcohol can also be metabolized forming another carcinogen called acetaldehyde, which is known to be responsible for hangovers.
However, all alcohol drinks are not made the same. The study found that those who drank one to eight glasses of wine per week were actually 50 percent less likely to have colorectal neoplasia.
Researchers believe that a compound called resveratrol in red wine is responsible for the reduced risk of colorectal tumours. Previous studies have partially revealed the anticancer mechanism for the protective effect of resveratrol.
The USDA and Department of Health suggest women and people over 60 should not drink more than one drink a day, men should not drink more than two drinks a day. They also suggest people who are pregnant, trying to conceive, take medication, or who are under the age 21 should not drink.
Source: American Journal of Gastroenterology