A recent study published in Cancer Prevention Research links drinking too much alcohol at a young age to increased prostate cancer (PC) in older men. The findings suggest that drinking excessive alcohol as early as 15 years old can increase the risk of prostate cancer by three times in older adult men.

What is surprising about this research is that a link between alcohol and prostate cancer has not been established, and past studies have shown mixed results.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation’s official statement is, “There is no known direct link between alcohol and prostate cancer risk.” So, does alcohol cause prostate cancer? It may increase the risk of prostate cancer, but it definitely does not decrease your risk.

Alcohol and prostate cancer recurrence also remain unlinked. The lack of evidence should not prompt cancer survivors to drink alcohol excessively. There are many health consequences to drinking alcohol after prostate cancer remission, including interaction with chemotherapy medications, damage to the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), the effect on cells of the immune system and direct toxicity to other organs.

Prostate Cancer & Alcohol

While symptoms vary from person to person, some common symptoms that might signal prostate cancer include:

  • Blood in the semen
  • Blood in the urine
  • Experiencing pain or discomfort when sitting, caused by an enlarged prostate
  • Frequent urination
  • New onset of erectile dysfunction
  • Pain or burning during urination, which is much less common
  • The urge to urinate frequently at night
  • The need to strain to empty the bladder, or interrupted and weak urine flow

For someone with prostate cancer, they may experience one or more of these symptoms, or they may experience none at all. Prostate cancer is difficult to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), erectile dysfunction (ED), or an enlarged prostate.

The only sure way to diagnose prostate cancer is with a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test and a biopsy. A PSA is normally produced in your prostate and can be found in seminal fluid. If the cells of your prostate are dividing too rapidly, they release PSA into your bloodstream, and a PSA test can pick up this event. A biopsy is when your physicians take cells from your prostate and view them under a microscope.

Does alcohol cause prostate inflammation? It is unlikely. No studies established a link between the consumption of alcohol and inflammation or alcohol and prostate enlargement. The consumption of alcohol was linked to a reduction in prostate size. A diet high in carbohydrates and fat likely causes enlargement or inflammation though. Keep in mind that prostate enlargement and prostate cancer are different, and just because alcohol is linked to a smaller prostate, there is still evidence it increases prostate cancer risk later in life.

Can Alcohol Affect the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Yes. Alcohol can worsen or mask some of the symptoms of PC. Frequent urination, erectile dysfunction, the urge to urinate frequently at night, and weak urine flow are all symptoms. Alcohol impacts fluid levels in your body and how often your kidney produces urine.

Alcohol can mask many of these symptoms as well. Imagine someone tells their primary care provider (PCP) they are frequently urinating, but they also consume high amounts of alcohol. The PCP may consider a prostate cancer screen, but they also might just blame the frequent urination on alcohol intake.

Should You Drink Alcohol If You Have Prostate Cancer?

No. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of metastatic PC (prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of your body):

  • Change in bowel habits
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the shoulders, thighs, hips, or other bones
  • Fluid buildup or swelling in the feet and legs
  • Unexpected weight loss

Alcohol is known to cause all of these symptoms on its own. Regular consumption of alcohol will most certainly mask the more serious symptoms of PC.

If you or someone you know needs treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction, The Recovery Village can help. Call today to speak to a representative about the facilities located across the country and how comprehensive treatment is tailored to each client’s unique needs. To take the first step toward recovery, call The Recovery Village today.

    

Brunner, Clair, et al. “Alcohol Consumption and Prostate Cancer Incidence and Progression: A Mendelian Randomisation Study.” International Journal of Cancer, October 2016. Accessed April 2019.

DeNoon, Daniel J. “Alcohol Won’t Worsen Prostate Symptoms.” WebMD, 22 May 2006. Accessed April 20, 2019.

Farris, Megan S., et al. “Post-Diagnosis Alcohol Intake and Prostate Cancer Survival: A Population-Based Cohort Study.” International Journal of Cancer, February 2018. Accessed April 20, 2019.

ASCO. “Prostate Cancer – Symptoms and Signs.” September 5, 2018, Accessed April 20, 2019.

Prostate Cancer Foundation. “Prostate Cancer: What Are The Risk Factors?”  2017. Accessed April 20, 2019.

Mayoclinic. “PSA Test – Mayo Clinic.” 2018. Accessed April 20, 2019.

Sesso, H D, et al. “Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Prostate Cancer: The Harvard Alumni Health Study.” International Journal of Epidemiology, 2001. Accessed April 20, 2019.

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