With the hope that exposures responsible for colorectal cancer might be especially obvious among those in whom it develops early, 147 men with colorectal carcinomas first diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 44 years were compared to neighborhood controls. Physical activity on the job was protective for tumors located in the transverse and descending portions of the colon. Rectal cancer and to a lesser extent sigmoid cancers were associated with jobs in which dusts or fumes were inhaled, especially if those jobs were held for long periods in young adulthood. While risk for rectal cancer did not seem to be limited to any particular type of dust or fume, the excess risk was strongest for wood and metal dusts. Consumption of fruits and vegetables and a preference for whole grain breads were protective for colon but not rectal cancers, while consumption of deep fried foods and barbecued/smoked meats increased risk at specific subsites. Beef intake, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking appeared to play little or no role at any subsite.
Supported by USPHS Grants R01CA19476, K04CA00884, K07CA01291, and R01CA36501 from the Division of Extramural Activities, National Cancer Institute.