News Release

October 1, 2008

Contact: Chris DeFrancesco, 860-679-3914

Sex Matters in Colon Cancer Risk Among Smokers

UConn’s Joseph Anderson Presents Findings at ACG Scientific Meeting

FARMINGTON, CONN. – It doesn’t take as much tobacco exposure to significantly increase colon cancer risk in women as it does in men, according to research presented Monday by Dr. Joseph C. Anderson, a gastroenterologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

This sounds yet another warning about the damaging effects of tobacco use, especially for women.” Anderson says.

Anderson, who collaborated with Dr. Zvi A. Alpern of Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y., shared their findings at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual scientific meeting in Orlando. The study associates smoking with a nearly two-fold increase in risk for developing significant colorectal neoplasia, or the formation of tumors in the colon, in both genders, but it also finds that women require less tobacco use to reach that risk category.

Using data from more than 2,700 patients from 1999 to 2006, Anderson and Alpern measured tobacco use in pack-years: the number of packs of cigarettes smoked daily multiplied by the number of years spent as a smoker. Their analysis, controlling for age, body mass index and family history, showed that women who smoked up to 30 pack-years had an 82 percent greater risk for significant colorectal neoplasia than nonsmoking women, while men who smoked up to 30 pack-years showed 21 percent greater risk than nonsmoking men.

“The men don’t ‘catch up’ until they’ve smoked more than 30 pack-years,” Anderson says. “Once you get to more than 30 pack-years, both male and female smokers overall are nearly twice as likely than their nonsmoking counterparts to develop colon cancer. What’s even more alarming about our evidence is, it tells us that women who smoke will reach that danger zone much faster than male smokers will.”

At last year’s ACG annual scientific meeting, Anderson presented data from his clinical research showing obesity and smoking outweigh family history as risk factors for colon cancer in women.

Anderson works in the UConn Health Center’s Colon Cancer Prevention Program, which offers detailed assessments of patients’ family and personal medical histories to determine their individual risk factors and come up with personalized cancer prevention plans. More information about the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center is available at

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