Consumption of Lake Ontario sport fish and the incidence of colorectal cancer in the New York State Angler Cohort Study (NYSACS)

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Abstract

Fish consumption is hypothesized to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Nonetheless, consuming sport fish from the Great Lakes increases exposure to certain persistent organic pollutants, namely polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and organochlorine insecticides, which may increase the risk of cancer. Evidence that exposure to persistent organic pollutants is associated with colorectal cancer is sparse. We examined colorectal cancer incidence in the New York State Angler Cohort Study (NYSACS), a prospective cohort of 17,110 anglers and spouses age 18–40 years at enrollment. In 1991, participants completed a mailed self-administered questionnaire that ascertained the number of years that fish from Lake Ontario were consumed, as well as potential confounders. Forty-one histologically confirmed first primary incident colorectal cancers diagnosed as of December 31, 2008 were identified via the New York State Cancer Registry. Vital status was ascertained by linkage with the Social Security Administration Death File. Rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated with Poisson regression, adjusting for age, pack-years of smoking, and sex. Compared with never consumers, colorectal cancer incidence was statistically non-significantly lower among consumers of Lake Ontario sport fish (RR=0.66; 95% CI: 0.35; 1.24). Incidence of colon cancer was lower among Lake Ontario sport fish consumers (RR=0.45, 95%CI: 0.20; 1.00). We did not observe any evidence of effect measure modification by sex or age. Although consumption of Lake Ontario sport fish may have an inverse association with colorectal cancer risk, inferences are complicated by a small number of cases and a lack of information regarding potential confounders including other dietary factors. However, our results do not provide support for the hypothesis that consumption of contaminated sport fish increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

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