Monday, October 02, 2006

Alcohol does not affect prostate cancer risk.

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Drinking does not appear to be associated with the overall incidence of prostate cancer, according to findings published in the International Journal of Cancer. However, men who drink alcohol may have a lower risk of having an aggressive prostate cancer and dying from this cancer.

"Although there is little evidence to support an association between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer risk, questions remain concerning the effect on aggressive and non-aggressive tumors and the pattern and type of alcohol consumed," Dr. Graham G. Giles and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, Australia, write.

To investigate, the researchers analyzed data on 16,872 men followed from 1994 to 2003. The participants ranged in age from 27 to 70 years at the beginning of the study, when questionnaires were used to obtain detailed information on alcohol consumption.

A total of 732 cases of prostate cancer occurred, including 132 aggressive cases and 53 prostate cancer-related deaths.

Overall, no association was observed between alcohol intake and the development of prostate cancer. Also, the pattern of drinking and type of alcohol were not significantly associated with prostate cancer risk.

Compared with abstainers, men who consumed 1 to 19 gram per day of alcohol, (no more than about one and a half drinks per day), had a slightly reduced risk of aggressive prostate cancers (34 percent). Prostate cancer mortality was also reduced in this group (44 percent).

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines, 12 ounces of beer equals 12.9 grams of alcohol, 5 ounces of wine equals 13.5 grams, and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (80 proof) equals 14.0 grams of alcohol.

If it can be confirmed that moderate alcohol consumption protects against aggressive and fatal prostate cancer, it would have a "major impact," Giles and colleagues point out, because "there are no established modifiable risk factors for this common type of cancer."

SOURCE: International Journal of Cancer, September 2006.

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