Heavy beer consumption linked to advanced prostate cancer

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Heavy beer consumption linked to advanced prostate cancer

Dr. David Samadi comments on published findings on a link between advanced-stage prostate cancer and a heavy intake of beer over a lifetime.

Over imbibing in too many beers over the course of a man’s life could possibly set the stage for an increased risk of a diagnosis of advanced-stage prostate cancer. This news comes from a population-based, case-control study published in Cancer Epidemiology finding this commonality among men suffering from advanced-stage prostate cancer. 

“This study concurs with several past studies which have also found that heavy beer consumption is one of the worst offenders in terms of raising the probability of potentially lethal prostate cancer,” exclaimed Dr. David Samadi. “There are no health benefits from heavy alcohol use and this study is just one more example linking the dots between consuming too many beers and aggressive prostate cancer.”

Research was conducted in the Greater Montreal area led by uro-oncologist Pierre Karakiewicz, a professor of urological surgery at UdeM’s Faculty of Medicine. Close to 4,000 men were interviewed between 2005 and 2009.  Out of those men, 1,933 had advanced-stage prostate cancer while the control group consisting of 1,994 men did not have cancer.

“The interesting findings from this study was that if a man had heavy consumption of other types of alcohol such as wine or spirits, there was no significant association found,” stated Dr. Samadi.  “The association was only found among men who were heavy beer drinkers.  Heavy beer consumption was defined as having over 63 drinks per year over several decades and those men had a 40% increased risk of getting a diagnosis of advanced stage prostate cancer when compared to the control group.”

The daily quantity of beer appears to have an impact on what age the threshold begins to increase the risk of prostate cancer. Men drinking two beers or more a day beginning at age 18 may expect to have high-grade prostate cancer diagnosed by age 65.  If a man has been drinking three beers a day since the age of 18, then his risk of advanced prostate cancer comes earlier at around age 50.

“What this study shows and a main take away from it is that cumulative consumption of beer over a lifetime appears to be a predictor of prostate cancer,” Dr. Samadi explained. “This should remind all physicians to always take into account a man’s alcohol consumption, especially of beer when they are being screened for prostate cancer.  Ask specific questions of what kind and how much alcohol they consume and then educate men on how that could raise their risk of prostate cancer, something few men probably take into consideration.”

The study was unable to identify why heavy beer drinkers had a greater risk of advanced prostate cancer. However, a couple of speculations pointed to the fact that high alcohol consumption increases the risk of folate deficiency and can also suppress the immune system which could increase the spread of tumors.

Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can contact prostate cancer surgeon and urologic oncologist, Dr. David Samadi, for a free phone consultation and to learn more about prostate cancer risk, call 212-365-5000.