Tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and caffeine as risk factors for colon cancer in a low-risk population

Epidemiology. 1990 Mar;1(2):141-5. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199003000-00010.


We used data from a population-based case-control study to examine how use of tobacco products and consumption of alcohol, coffee, and caffeine relate to colon cancer in Utah. We hypothesized that low use of these substances is one factor contributing to the low colon cancer incidence in Utah and could help explain the low risk associated for colon cancer with being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In females, we observed little or no increase in risk of colon cancer from smoking cigarettes or from consumption of alcohol, caffeine, or coffee. Males who used pipes, however, experienced an increased risk for colon cancer (OR = 4.1, 95% CI = 1.3-12.3). Risk for colon cancer associated with alcohol use was greatly attenuated after adjusting for caffeine and pipe use in males; males who consumed higher levels of caffeine during the two to three years prior to the interview were at higher risk than males who consumed low levels of caffeine (OR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.0-4.2); similar associations were observed for coffee consumption. Nonuse of these substances could explain the low colon cancer incidence rates observed in members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Utah males.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Christianity
  • Coffee*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Tobacco
  • Utah / epidemiology


  • Coffee
  • Caffeine