Alcohol may be a huge part of our culture, but it's killing us nevertheless. Sure, red wine has its benefits, but drinking has also been linked to breast cancer and seven (so far) cancers of the digestive system. Now new research provides new evidence of a significant relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of prostate cancer.
Scientists at the Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia at the University of Victoria and Australia's National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University also learned why it has taken us so long to figure out the connection. They discovered a flaw in previous studies they call “abstainer bias,” a common practice of grouping together former drinkers – including people who may have previously drank heavily, but quit or cut down due to failing health – with those whose lips have never touched a shot glass. This practice has the built-in statistical flaw of disguising the association between alcohol intake and health problems like prostate cancer by making drinkers "look good" in comparison with a group containing unhealthy former drinkers.
When the Aussie team re-examined the 340 previously published studies on alcohol and prostate cancer and adjusted for abstainer bias they found a statistically significant dose-response relationship between amount of alcohol consumed and risk of prostate cancer among current drinkers.
Which is to say, the more you drink, the greater your risk of prostate cancer.
It's not just about the drunkards, and over-indulgers, either. At a mere two drinks per day, your risk for developing prostate cancer rises 23 percent!
"This new study contributes to the strengthening evidence that alcohol consumption is a risk factor for prostate cancer. Alcohol's contribution to prostate cancer will need to be factored in to future estimates of the global burden of disease," said UVic's CARBC director and co-author Dr. Tim Stockwell.
The research has been published in BMC Cancer.