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December 14, 2016 | 2 minute read

Alcohol May Increase Prostate Cancer Risk

Drinking even a couple alcoholic drinks a day may increase men’s risk of prostate cancer, even modestly, suggests a new review of the research. The study, published in BMC Cancer, attempted to tease apart drinking history.

The latest analysis of global research by AICR/WCRF found no strong link between prostate cancer and alcohol intake. AICR research shows that excess body fat links to advanced prostate cancer.

Previous research on alcohol and prostate cancer has shown mixed findings. This could be due to classification errors, the authors hypothesized. Studies have commonly placed former and occasional drinkers in the same group as individuals who have abstained from drinking their whole lives, which may have masked any links.

Study researchers identified 27 studies on alcohol and prostate cancer that measured risk at different levels of consumption.

Compared to the abstainers, being a drinker at any level was associated with increased risk of prostate cancer. The higher the level, the greater the risk. Overall, the increased risk was moderate for this analysis. Men who drank up to 1.7 alcoholic drinks per day had an 8 percent greater risk compared to non-drinkers. Men who drank up to about 5 drinks a day had a 14 percent higher risk.

When the researchers examined only those six studies that were originally free of abstainer bias, the risk for low volume drinkers rose to 23 percent.

The study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health.


Sources: Jinhui Zhao et al. Is alcohol consumption a risk factor for prostate cancer? A systematic review and meta–analysis. BMC Cancer. Published: 15 November 2016.

AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project. Diet, nutrition, physical activity and prostate cancer, 2014.

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