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Does Drinking Alcohol Affect Your Prostate?

Does drinking alcohol affect your prostate?Whether you’re getting ready for a series of holiday parties, kicking back on the weekends or meeting the guys in a bar after a game of golf, the one word to remember about alcohol is “moderation”. While you’re likely well aware of the safety reasons for not drinking and driving and how excess alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of serious health problems, what do you know about the impact of alcohol on your prostate? The findings may surprise you.

Alcohol, Prostate Cancer And PSA

Let’s start with a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer, which raised some interesting points. [1] The scientists set out to examine the role of alcohol on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels and the risk of prostate cancer. Elevated PSA levels are a possible indicator of prostate cancer, although levels may be abnormally high for other reasons as well, such as the presence of prostatitis, an enlarged prostate or various lifestyle factors.

In the study, 2,400 men who had PSA-detected prostate cancer and 12,700 controls who had participated in a large, controlled trial for prostate cancer treatment (ProtecT) were evaluated. While the investigators found a modestly higher risk of high-grade prostate cancer among heavy drinkers, they also observed evidence of lower PSA levels associated with increasing consumption of alcohol. This means it can be more difficult to detect prostate cancer using PSA levels among men who are heavy drinkers. Physicians should be sure to question their patients about alcohol consumption.

Wine And Your Prostate

We’ve all heard stories about how red wine is good for your heart and may help prevent cancer, and these benefits have been credited to a phytonutrient called resveratrol. But how do red wine and resveratrol specifically affect the prostate?

We get a hint of that relationship from Harvard Men’s Health Watch, which published information about men who consumed an average of no more than four to seven glasses of red wine per week. [2] The men were 52 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than men who did not drink red wine. A comparison of white and red wine showed red wine was more beneficial than white.

Chalk one up for red wine!

If you need some reassurance that red wine, white wine, beer and liquor consumption will not increase your risk of prostate cancer, you can take comfort in the findings of another study that evaluated more than 84,000 men who participated in the California Men’s Health Study. [3] Those researchers reported: “Neither red wine nor total alcohol consumption were associated with prostate cancer risk in this population of moderate drinkers.” Note the word “moderate,” which means no more than two drinks daily.

Prostate Health And Hard Liquor

If you like hard liquor, a study that included more than 7,600 men found that consumption of beer and wine was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer, but that moderate use of liquor was associated with a 61 percent to 67 percent increased risk of prostate cancer.[4] But are you ready to be confused? About 10 years later, the California Men’s Health Study found that men who consumed beer, white wine, liquor or mixed alcoholic drinks did not have an increased risk of prostate cancer if their consumption was moderate.

Again, the important word is “moderate” when it comes to prostate health. If you want to drink alcohol during parties, nights out with the guys or at home, be sure to make two drinks your limit. You can drink sparkling water and cranberry or orange juice in between your alcoholic drinks. And it may be better to choose red wine (and resveratrol) over hard liquor, but the jury is out on that verdict at this point.

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[1] Alcohol consumption and PSA-detected prostate cancer risk — a case control nested in the ProtecT study:

[2] Attention men: the benefits of red wine, from Harvard Men’s Health Watch:

[3] Red wine consumption and risk of prostate cancer: the California men’s health study:

[4] Alcohol consumption and risk of prostate cancer: the Harvard Alumni Health Study:

Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa

is the Director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center and the Chief Science Officer at Prostate Research Labs. Before joining NYU, Dr. Espinosa was a clinician, researcher and director of clinical trials at the Center for Holistic Urology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is a licensed naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist, a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Registered Herbalist. Dr. Espinosa is an author of the naturopathic entry in 1000 Cures for 200 Ailments (Harper Collins, March, 2007) and “Prostate Cancer — Nutrients that may slow its progression,” Food and Nutrients in Disease Management (Maryland: Cadmus Publishing, 2009). Dr. Espinosa also serves on the editorial board of the Natural Medicine Journal. Dr Geo is a frequent speaker at universities, medical schools and conferences on Integrative Health, nutrition and natural treatments for prostate disease. Read more on Dr. Geo.