Alcohol & Prostate Cancer

New data from the Prostate Cancer and Environmental Study, a large population-based case-controlled study in Montreal finds evidence that men who have a high lifetime alcohol consumption are at a greater risk for developing high-grade prostate cancer, an aggressive and fast growing type with poor outcomes. 

“Findings from other studies have shown the exact same strong evidence of how alcohol consumption has a link to several different types of cancer,” said Dr. David Samadi. “This recent study using a large number of men carries extra validity to that connection between alcohol and prostate cancer.  This dose-response relationship of men who have consumed a high intake of alcohol over their lifetime correlates well with those studies and further indicates the need for physicians to have a discussion with men about their drinking habits.”

The study researched men younger than 76 years of age at the time of their prostate cancer diagnosis which comprised of 1,933 cases and 1,994 controls in Montreal, Canada.  The average age of participants was 64 years. Interviews of each man were conducted by eliciting their lifetime alcohol consumption and the type of alcoholic beverage they typically consumed. 

What the researchers found was an increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer among current alcohol users, largely driven by beer drinking.  No association was found for wine consumption.  Trend analyses suggested some dose-response relationships, but significant associations emerged only when men consumed a higher intake of beer, which possibly could be explained by a threshold effect.  The high lifetime alcohol consumption association was translated into more than 2 drinks a day for a man who is 65 years of age or more than 3 drinks a day for a 50 year old man. 

The study did not collect information on binge drinking because of its sporadic nature and the difficulty of being able to assess it with much validity.

The association between beverages containing alcohol and the risk of cancer development has been well-researched over the years.  Another recent study also found alcohol to be a risk factor for seven different types of cancer indicating there is credible evidence that drinking may be a direct cause of cancer.

“The take-away message here is that alcohol consumption is a problem for many not only in terms of the devastating effects of alcoholism but also now for what looks like it being a risk factor for prostate cancer,” stated Dr. Samadi. “I want men to be educated on what an appropriate consumption of alcohol should be.  They need to know a high consumption puts them at a greater risk of developing high grade prostate cancer.  Research has shown that drinkers who give up alcohol can reverse their risk of not only cancer, but many other health conditions.  Men who are problem drinkers should seek help as soon as possible to lower this risk and lead a healthier life.”