Consumption of beer and colorectal cancer incidence: a meta-analysis of observational studies

Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Apr;26(4):549-60. doi: 10.1007/s10552-015-0532-5. Epub 2015 Feb 13.


Background: Several meta-analyses and reports from the World Cancer Research Fund supported a risk association between alcohol consumption and colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the association for beer consumption, the common type of alcoholic beverage, remains unclear.

Methods: We identified studies by a literature search of PUBMED and EMBASE through 30 June 2014. Summary relative risks (SRRs) with their 95% CIs were calculated with a fixed or random effects model.

Results: Twelve case-control and nine cohort studies were included. Compared with non-alcohol drinkers or non-beer drinkers, any beer drinkers were associated with an increased risk of CRC (SRR = 1.20, 95% CI, 1.06-1.37; p(heterogeneity) <0.001, I(2) = 73.3%), which was stronger in the rectum than in the colon. The categorical meta-analysis indicated that heavy (≥ 2 drinks/day) beer drinking was related to increased risk of CRC (SRR = 1.37, 95% CI 1.26-1.49), while light or moderate beer drinking was not. The dose-response analysis demonstrated that an increase of one drink per day in beer consumption was related to an increased risk of CRC (SRR = 1.13, 95% CI, 1.06-1.21). There was evidence of a potential nonlinear association between beer intake and CRC incidence (p = 0.002 for nonlinearity).

Conclusions: The results from this meta-analysis suggest that heavy (≥ 2 drinks/day) beer drinking may be associated with increased CRC risk. More researches with improved control of confounding and actual measurement of beer consumption are needed to confirm these findings.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Beer*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Risk