Can drinking alcohol lead to prostate cancer?

By Claire Sissons

Reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD


The prostate is part of the male reproductive system, and it sits just below the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, which is a tube that carries urine out of the body, and helps make semen. Other than skin cancerprostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States.

In this article, we cover the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of prostate cancer and consider its possible links with alcohol consumption.

Can alcohol cause prostate cancer?

There is no known link between alcohol and prostate cancer.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, there is no direct link between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Similarly, the American Cancer Society do not list alcohol as one of the known risk factors for prostate cancer.

2016 review concluded that men who consume alcohol might have a higher risk of developing the disease than those who abstain, with the risk increasing in line with alcohol intake. However, the review included data from men reporting on their own consumption, which may not be reliable.

The results of a 2018 study indicate that there is a link between a person's alcohol consumption earlier in life and their risk of developing prostate cancer at a later date. However, this study, which recruited men requiring a prostate biopsy, found no link between current alcohol consumption and prostate cancer risk. In both of these studies, the researchers highlighted the need for further investigation into the effect of alcohol on prostate cancer risk.

Can alcohol affect the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is unlikely to cause symptoms until a later stage. Screening is a valuable tool that doctors can use to spot the initial signs of disease in people with risk factors.

Occasionally, a person will experience symptoms, which may include:

        * needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night

·         * difficulty urinating

·         * pain or a burning feeling when passing urine

·         * blood in the urine or semen

·         * difficulty achieving an erection

·         * pain when ejaculating

·         * pain or stiffness in the rectum, lower back, hips, or pelvis

Drinking a lot of alcohol can make a person urinate more than usual and have difficulty achieving an erection. It is possible that people might mistake both of these symptoms for early symptoms of prostate cancer.

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