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BACKGROUND: Alcohol intake is an established risk factor for colorectal cancer (CRC); however, there is limited knowledge on whether changing alcohol drinking habits during adulthood modifies CRC risk. OBJECTIVE: Leveraging longitudinal exposure assessments on alcohol intake at different ages, we examined the relationship between change in alcohol intake and subsequent CRC risk. METHODS: Within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, changes in alcohol intake comparing follow-up with baseline assessments were investigated in relation to CRC risk. The analysis included 191,180, participants and 1530 incident CRC cases, with exclusion of the first three years of follow-up to minimize reverse causation. Trajectory profiles of alcohol intake, assessed at ages 20, 30, 40, 50 years, at baseline and during follow-up, were estimated using latent class mixed models and related to CRC risk, including 407,605 participants and 5,008 incident CRC cases. RESULTS: Mean age at baseline was 50.2 years and the follow-up assessment occurred on average 7.1 years later. Compared to stable intake, a 12 g/day increase in alcohol intake during follow-up was positively associated with CRC risk (HR = 1.15, 95%CI 1.04, 1.25), while a 12 g/day reduction was inversely associated with CRC risk (HR = 0.86, 95%CI 0.78, 0.95). Trajectory analysis showed that compared to low alcohol intake, men who increased their alcohol intake from early- to mid- and late-adulthood by up to 30 g/day on average had significantly increased CRC risk (HR = 1.24; 95%CI 1.08, 1.42), while no associations were observed in women. Results were consistent by anatomical subsite. CONCLUSIONS: Increasing alcohol intake during mid-to-late adulthood raised CRC risk, while reduction lowered risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Epidemiol

Publication Date



Alcohol change, Alcohol intake, Colorectal cancer, Latent class mixed models, Longitudinal exposure, Trajectory profile analysis