Study Examines Alcohol’s Effect on Aggressive Prostate Cancer Risk

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An alcoholic beverage or two per day is safe for men with prostate cancer, a 2019 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology suggests. Some research has linked drinking alcohol to an increased risk for certain cancers. The goals of this study were to see whether drinking alcohol affects the risk of being diagnosed with aggressive, potentially lethal prostate cancer or of developing it after diagnosis.

Starting in 1986 and over the next 25 years, the researchers periodically asked nearly 48,000 nonsmoking men who were cancer-free at the outset whether they drank alcohol, and if so, how much and what type. A serving was defined as four or five ounces of wine; one glass, can, or bottle of beer; or one drink or shot of liquor. In this study, moderate consumption was no more than two servings of alcohol daily.

Over the course of the study, lethal prostate cancer was diagnosed in 869 men. Compared with abstinence, drinking alcohol of any kind was associated with a lower risk of being diagnosed with lethal prostate cancer. Of 5,182 men diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer, those who consumed moderate amounts of red wine after their diagnosis had a 50 percent lower risk of progression to lethal prostate cancer compared with those who abstained.

If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start now based on these results. But the findings do suggest that enjoying an occasional glass of wine or beer or a cocktail won’t interfere with your plan for managing prostate cancer.