Heavier alcohol use predicts prostate cancer

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An international research team from Australia, Canada and the United States found that men who drank two or more standard drinks of alcohol a day are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

The findings are in marked contrast to previous reviews that found inconclusive evidence of an association between alcohol use and incidence of prostate cancer.

The National Drug Research Institute (NDRI) study – Alcohol Use and Prostate Cancer: A meta-analysis – was co-authored by Professor Kaye Fillmore and Dr. Alan Bostrom, from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). Associate Professor Tanya Chikritzhs and Research Associate Richard Pascal, from the National Drug Research Institute (based at Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia); and Professor Tim Stockwell, director of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC). The study is published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

The researchers reviewed 35 studies examining the relationship between level of drinking and the risk of developing prostate cancer. They found that some types of studies were more likely to find the relationship (“case control” studies) and others less likely (“cohort” studies), which explains different conclusions reached by other researchers.

When all types of studies were combined, however, the authors concluded: “Men who drink two or more standard drinks a day (or 14 drinks a week) or more have about a 20% greater chance of developing prostate cancer.”

The authors point out that prostate cancer risk increases at almost the same level of drinking and at the same ages that alcohol is thought to have a ?protective effect’ for other diseases, most notably coronary heart disease. Men who drink two or more drinks a day might take this into account if they are consuming alcohol to prevent heart attacks.

“Further research is needed to examine more carefully the balance of health risks and benefits for different types of disease from drinking alcohol at different levels,” the authors said. In previous papers, the authors have also questioned the evidence supporting the view that moderate drinking protects against heart disease.

Source: National Drug Research Institute, Australia

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