The research I’m citing today was published in the journal, Biomedical Sciences – Cancer Research, in November, 2016. The study involved a review of all available studies (a meta-analysis) looking at the link between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer in human studies.
Over the years, studies, such as the Harvard Alumni Study, and other studies, have suggested that alcohol consumption increases the risk of prostate cancer, but up untill now, health experts were reluctant to make any definitive statements about this association until more evidence was made available.
What is the effect of alcohol on prostate gland?
The meta-analysis review in the November, 2016 edition of Biomedical Sciences – Cancer Research, has now shown that when all 27 available studies are considered, alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer on a dose-dependent basis – meaning the more alcohol you consume, the greater is the risk of prostate cancer.
The results of the study showed that when compared to lifetime abstainers (people who haven’t had alcohol in many years if ever):
- low-volume drinkers (up to two drinks per day) had an 8% greater risk for prostate cancer.
- medium-volume drinkers (up to four drinks per day) had a 7% greater risk.
- high-volume drinkers (up to 6 drinks per day) had a 14% greater risk and
- higher-volume drinkers (6 drinks or more per day), had an 18% greater risk.
This study has prompted health experts to consider listing prostate cancer among other cancers where alcohol is an established risk factor, such as breast cancer, liver cancer, colon cancer and esophageal cancer.
There are several proposed mechanisms to explain how alcohol can promote prostate cancer development, such as generating free radicals, increasing estrogen, and interfering with folic acid metabolism, which is required to synthesized and stabilize our genes.
How much alcohol intake per week is healthy?
While future studies need to clarify the relationship between alcohol and prostate cancer, and the mechanisms by which alcohol promotes prostate cancer development, I believe that it would be wise for men to limit their alcohol consumption to no more than 3-5 drinks per week.
Remember that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, and evidence suggests that up to 75% of cases could be prevented by following more prudent dietary and lifestyle practices. The evidence is compelling that avoiding or greatly limiting alcohol is one of the lifestyle factors that can help to reduce risk.
I encourage you to click on the link below and review the evidence for yourself.
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great!
Dr. James Meschino