Alcohol consumption and digestive cancer mortality in Koreans: the Kangwha Cohort Study

J Epidemiol. 2010;20(3):204-11. doi: 10.2188/jea.je20090077. Epub 2010 Mar 16.


Background: Alcohol consumption is a known risk factor for cancers of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In this study, we examined the association between alcohol consumption and digestive cancer mortality in Korean men and women.

Methods: A cohort of 6291 residents of Kangwha County who were aged 55 years or older in March 1985 were followed to 31 December 2005-a period of 20.8 years. We calculated the relative risks of cancer mortality with respect to the amount of alcohol consumed. Cox proportional hazard model was used to adjust for age at entry, smoking, ginseng intake, education status, and pesticide use.

Results: In men, the risks of mortality from esophageal cancer (relative risk [RR], 5.62; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.45-21.77) and colon cancer (RR, 4.59; 95% CI, 1.10-19.2) were higher among heavy drinkers, as compared with abstainers. The risks of mortality from colon cancer and bile duct cancer rose with increasing alcohol consumption; these trends were positive and statistically significant (P = 0.04 and P = 0.02, respectively). When participants were stratified by type of alcoholic beverage, soju drinkers had higher risks of mortality from esophageal cancer and colon cancer than makkoli drinkers. In women, the risk of digestive cancer mortality was higher among alcohol drinkers than abstainers, but this difference was not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Alcohol consumption increases mortality from esophageal cancer and colon cancer in men.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors