Does alcohol consumption cause prostate cancer? … revisited yet again

There have been multiple attempts over the years to try and establish a clear relationship between alcohol consumption and risk for prostate cancer, but despite the multiple attempts there is still no clear picture to work from.

A new epidemiological study by Watters et al. has examined data from a prospective cohort study in 294,707 US males aged 50-71 years in 1995-96.

This study showed the following:

  • There were 15,327 cases of localized prostate cancer identified through 2003 (i.e., 5.2 percent of the cohort at 7-8 years of follow-up) .
  • There were 1,900 cases of advanced prostate cancer identified through 2003 (i.e., 0.64 percent of the cohort at 7-8 years of follow-up) .
  • There were 514 cases of prostate cancer-specific death through 2005 (i.e., 0.17 percent of the cohort at 9-10 years of follow-up).
  • The risk of non-advanced forms of prostate cancer among drinkers compared to non-drinkers was
    • 25 percent higher among men who drank ≥6 alcoholic drinks daily (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.25).
    • 19 percent higher among men who drank 3, 4 or 5 alcoholic drinks daily.
    • 6 percent higher among men who drank 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks daily.
  • The association between alcohol consumption and non-advanced prostate cancer risk did not differ appreciably by age, family history of prostate cancer, smoking status, body mass index, or self-reported PSA testing and DRE.
  • No association was evident between alcohol intake and advanced prostate cancer.
  • There was an inverse association with fatal prostate cancer among heavy drinkers.

The authors conclude that  higher alcohol consumption modestly increases risk for non-advanced forms of prostate cancer. Of course there is still a very real question about the validity of this conclusion. It is apparent that there is some sort of association between alcohol consumption and risk for a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but whether that is a cause and event association or whether drinking is simply one of several associated behaviors, one of which is causative for an increase in risk for prostate cancer, has not been determined at this time.

Of course regular, heavy drinking is a bad idea for all sorts of reasons, and is most certainly associated with far more immediately serious consequences than a risk for prostate cancer!

2 Responses

  1. My name is Emeka. I’m a Nigerian (in West Africa). My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2011 and was treated, but the whole thing resurfaced again. He had gone for another test recently and it was confirmed that his PSA level has gone up to 25 ng/ml and the doctor said it needs urgent treatment, but I have no confidence on orthodox treatments. I’m contemplating Chinese herb or gnld products. The truth is that I don’t know how effective they may be. Please, I need professional advice urgently. Thanks.


  2. Emeka:

    Please click here to join our social network, which is designed to help people like you and you Dad to get personalized information and guidance. I am not sure what you mean by “gnld products” so please be very specific when you join the social network. Also, please tell us how old you Dad is, what his PSA level was first diagnosed, and how he has been treated so far.

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