Is There a Link Between Prostate Cancer and Alcohol?
Last updated: September 2019
Good day everyone, Dr. Nick here again with another article. This article is about alcohol consumption and prostate cancer. While I’m not the biggest drinker of alcohol, I do enjoy a frosty beverage from time to time. So, I decided to investigate if there was any sort of relationship between alcohol and prostate cancer. If you didn't know, there is a relationship between alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction so, you may want to be on guard about that too.1 Ok...let's get back to the topic at hand. Do you think there is a connection between prostate cancer and alcohol consumption? Let's find out.
The link is unclear
One article I came across reported there was “little indication” of a link between prostate cancer and alcohol. Let's take that as good news. The study went on to mention the link between prostate cancer and alcohol was stronger in the study conducted in the United States. Dr. Christopher Filson, at Emory University, went on to mention, “When it comes to a clear link between alcohol and prostate cancer, there really isn’t one.”2 Dr. Filson added, “What I tell my patients is, alcohol in general and in moderation is okay” and the men “...should not have to cut alcohol completely out of their lives.”2
More research published in Cancer Prevention Research reported men who drank seven drinks per week between the ages of 15 and 49 were more than 3x more likely to develop a “high grade” prostate cancer than men who did not drink. Interestingly, they noted current alcohol consumption was not related to prostate cancer.3 Dr. Emma Allot at the University of North Carolina mentioned in a press release that “it’s possible that the effect of alcohol comes from lifetime intake, or from earlier in life, rather than alcohol patterns around the time of diagnosis of prostate cancer.”3
What about drinking while getting treatment?
So let's say you were already diagnosed with prostate cancer. Can you or should you drink alcohol if you are using chemotherapy as a treatment? Dr. Filson had some concerns about that. The good doctor said, “ Alcohol can affect how well certain chemotherapies or certain medications can work. Patients will have to have that conversation with their medical oncologist.”2 To quote from the article directly, it says “...alcohol seems to increase the risk of prostate cancer among men who take certain drugs often prescribed for an enlarged prostate. The drugs finasteride and dutasteride both seem to lower the risk of prostate cancer among men. Alcohol sees to lower or eliminate that benefit. These drugs belong to a class called 5-ARIs, suggesting that men avoid alcohol if they are taking this kind of medication.”2
Talk to your doctor
In closing here, I’d say be careful. While having a drink seems to be ok, you should definitely talk to your doctor about alcohol and prostate cancer. I highly recommend talking to your doctor if you have a long history with drinking alcohol. He or she may have some suggestions for you to possibly modify your intake. More importantly, you should talk to your doctor if you have started treatment. As you just read, alcohol may stop your treatment from working as well as it should. Just something for you to think about. Thanks for reading.
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