An analysis of over five thousand men has concluded that men who consume alcohol may have a slightly lower risk of lethal prostate cancer than men who don’t. However, because of the rarity of lethal prostate cancer and the risks of other health problems due to alcohol consumption, the study doesn’t recommend increasing the amount you drink.
Is Alcohol Good or Bad for Prostate Cancer?
The study in question drew data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which began in 1986 and ended in 2012, asking over 50,000 men detailed questions about their health and lifestyle over time. Researchers find this data useful because it offers a fuller picture of how we live and how it affects our health.
Specifically, this analysis looked at lethal prostate cancer and alcohol consumption. As there’s been no major research on the topic to this point, the study sorted out the men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, their reported alcohol intake, and whether their cancer was fatal.
The results might raise an eyebrow or two. In general, the alcohol drinkers were less likely to die from prostate cancer, and no evidence emerged that alcohol consumption made prostate cancer more likely to progress to a lethal stage, with moderate consumption of red wine associated with lower risk.
But before you pop a cork, keep in mind this study isn’t saying a glass of wine keeps prostate cancer away.
Prostate Cancer and Alcohol
First, elements of this study involved self-reporting, which can be notoriously inaccurate next to other methods. Another is that it focuses specifically on health professionals starting in the 1980s, which may skew the data as they’re more likely to seek medical treatment in the first place.
Secondly, while prostate cancer is common, prostate cancer as a cause of death is rare compared to other forms of cancers. Nearly 1% of the American population is, on any given day, diagnosed with prostate cancer, yet only about 35,000 people a year die from it. And as age is a key factor in prostate cancer, there’s likely a high percentage of “silent” diagnoses in older men that simply never become a problem over the course of their lives.
Nor does the study say absolutely that drinking alcohol prevents lethal prostate cancer. The study authors make it clear that they simply found no association between how much somebody drank and whether or not they were diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Instead, the main conclusion of the study is that while the topic needs more research, their data points towards moderate alcohol consumption, one or two drinks a day, being fine for patients already diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Where does this leave men without a prostate cancer diagnosis? Well, the good news is that you can continue to have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, if that’s your habit and you have specific worries about lethal prostate cancer, such as a family history.
Otherwise, talk to your doctor about alcohol consumption and see what your specific health circumstances warrant.
For More Information
To learn more about alcohol use, erectile dysfunction, or other men’s health topics, follow the eDrugstore blog. For information about the ED meds we carry, see our medication guide or call 1-800-467-5146 to speak to one of our U.S.-licensed physicians. Virtual health visits and shipping are always free.
Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.