Background: Although experimental studies have shown that gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) has a role in tumor progression, epidemiologic evidence for a relationship between GGT and cancer incidence is limited. The present study investigated the association between GGT and cancer incidence and assessed the role of alcohol consumption in this association. Methods: We examined a cohort of 15 031 Japanese adults aged 40 to 79 years who attended a health checkup in 1995 and were free of cancer at that time. GGT was measured using the Szasz method. The participants were then followed from 1 January 1996 until 31 December 2005, and cancer incidence was recorded by using the Miyagi Regional Cancer Registry. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were computed for each quartile of GGT and compared. The lowest quartile (GGT <13.0 IU/ml) was used as the reference category. Results: We documented 1505 cancers. Among participants in the highest quartile (GGT ≥31.0 IU/ml), the multivariate HR for any cancer was 1.28 (95% CI, 1.08-1.53; P for trend, <0.001), the HR for colorectal cancer was significantly greater than unity, and the HRs for esophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancers were greater than unity but not significantly so. This positive trend was observed only in current drinkers. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that there is a positive relationship between GGT and cancer incidence only for alcohol-related cancers in current drinkers and that the positive association of GGT with cancer incidence largely reflects alcohol consumption.
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