Alcohol consumption has been associated with a decreased risk for renal cell cancer in several studies. We investigated whether alcohol is associated with (epi)genetic changes of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene in renal cell cancer. The Netherlands Cohort Study (NLCS) on Diet and Cancer started in 1986 (n = 120,852) and uses the case-cohort method. After 11.3 years of follow-up, 314 renal cell cancer cases and 4,511 subcohort members were available for analysis. DNA was isolated from paraffin-embedded tumor tissue from 235 cases. VHL mutations were analyzed by sequencing, whereas VHL promoter methylation was analyzed using methylation-specific PCR. In multivariate analysis, hazard ratios of renal cell cancer for cohort members who consumed up to 5, 15, 30, and ≥30 g of alcohol per day were 0.72, 0.64, 0.81, and 0.69, respectively, compared with nondrinkers [95% confidence interval(95% CI) for the ≥30 category, 0.44-1.07; P for trend, 0.17]. Alcohol intake from beer, wine, and liquor was associated with decreased risks for renal cell cancer, although not statistically significant. Hazard ratios were not different for clear-cell renal cell cancer with and without VHL mutations, except for alcohol from beer, which was associated with an increased risk for clear-cell renal cell cancer without VHL mutations (hazard ratio for ≥5 g of alcohol from beer compared with nondrinkers, 2.74; 95% CI, 1.35-5.57). Alcohol was associated with a decreased risk for clear-cell renal cell cancer without VHL gene promoter methylation (hazard ratio for >15 g compared with nondrinkers, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.34-0.99). In this study, a not statistically significant inverse association was observed between alcohol and renal cell cancer. There was no statistical significant heterogeneity by VHL mutation or methylation status. Copyright © 2008 American Association for Cancer Research.