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Alcohol Consumption And Prostate Cancer: Is There A Link Between The Two?

One of the most common cancers reported in men, prostate cancer is the second leading type of cancer death in men, after lung cancer. The disease is treatable if found in its early stages. However, that can be challenging as prostate cancer can show no symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body.

According to doctors, cancer begins when prostate cells acquire changes to their DNA. Those changes tell the cells to grow and divide more rapidly than normal cells do, resulting in abnormal cells continuing to live while normal cells would die. In addition, DNA contains instructions that inform cells what to do [1].

Several risk factors are associated with prostate cancer, including ageing and a family history of the disease. Lifestyle factors, such as drinking alcohol, are, however, more difficult to link to the disease.

Alcohol Consumption And Cancer Risk: What You Should Know

The consumption of alcohol, including red and white wine, beer, and liquor, has been associated with cancer. If you drink more alcohol, your risk of developing cancer increases. When you consume alcohol, your body breaks down alcohol into acetaldehyde, which damages your DNA, preventing your body from repairing this damage.

A cell's DNA is its "instruction manual" that determines its normal growth and function. A damaged DNA can cause a cell to grow out of control and become a cancer tumour [2].

Types of cancer caused by alcohol consumption

Cancers associated with alcohol use include the following [3]:

  • Mouth
  • Throat
  • Voicebox
  • Breast
  • Oesophagus
  • Liver
  • Colon and rectum

Alcohol may also increase the risk of stomach cancer, as well as some other types of cancer. The more alcohol you consume, the higher your cancer risk. However, for some types of cancer, most notably breast cancer, even small amounts of alcohol can increase your risk [4].

Is there any link between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer?

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2019, men who drink alcohol are at a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer. The researchers did not find any correlation between alcohol intake and a progression to lethal prostate cancer- but highlighted the need for more research [5].

According to other studies, however, alcohol may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

• A 2018 study published in Cancer Prevention Research found that heavy alcohol consumption during childhood was often associated with more aggressive forms of prostate cancer [6].

• Based on an analysis of a number of epidemiological studies on the subject, researchers of a 2022 study in Biomolecules found that while findings varied, there was a link between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer development [7].

• A recent study found that men who consumed alcohol heavily from their mid-teens to age 50 - at least seven drinks per week - were three times more likely to develop high-grade prostate cancer than those who did not consume alcohol [8].

• Alcohol, according to another study, accelerated the growth of prostate tumours and their progression to metastatic prostate cancer [9].

Can People With Prostate Cancer Drink Alcohol?

When it comes to drinking alcohol before diagnosis and as a preventive measure, the Prostate Cancer Foundation takes a slightly more relaxed approach: One drink per day is safe. U.S. dietary guidelines used to suggest two alcoholic drinks per day, but this has been reduced [10].

The one drink should (or can be) be a glass of red wine, which contains resveratrol. This antioxidant might be able to inhibit cancer. Unfortunately, despite wine's slight edge, all alcohol contains ethanol, a hazardous chemical compound that can also damage body tissue.

On A Final Note...

More research is needed to determine whether alcohol consumption affects prostate cancer risk. In the meantime, experts recommend that alcohol consumption be limited to benefit an individual's overall well-being.

It generally appears safe for people with prostate cancer to consume alcohol in moderation. However, drinking alcohol may interact with certain medications or other treatments, so it is important to consult a physician before consuming alcohol.

It may be beneficial to make some lifestyle changes during treatment for prostate cancer, such as avoiding alcohol, exercising more, and eating various foods.

What is the best drink for enlarged prostate?

Among the top drinks for prostate health are green tea and hibiscus tea. Both contain powerful antioxidants. Studies suggest that green tea can prevent prostate cancer from developing and may also slow the growth of aggressive prostate cancer.

Is red wine good for your prostate?

It has been found that men who drink four or more glasses of red wine per week have a nearly 50% lower risk of prostate cancer than non-drinkers. Further, researchers have observed that red wine's protective effects are even stronger against prostate cancers that are particularly dangerous and aggressive. 

Is coffee good for prostate?

Men who consumed the most coffee (six or more cups daily) were nearly 20% less likely to develop any form of prostate cancer. The association was even stronger for aggressive cancers.

Can drinking alcohol affect your prostate?

The symptoms of an enlarged prostate are not worsened by drinking alcohol, even more than six drinks per week. Low-carb/high-fat diets reduce the growth of prostate tumor cells. However, experts advise against drinking when you are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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