Drinking alcohol and cancer of the penis concerns many men. However, alcohol and penile cancer are not related. That is, drinking alcohol does not increase the risk of getting the cancer.
After analyzing the research evidence, that is the conclusion of major health groups. They include the National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, American Cancer Society, and American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Anything that increases the chance of getting a disease is a risk factor. Having many risk factors doesn’t mean a person will get the disease. On the other hand, not having any risk factor doesn’t mean a person won’t get the disease.
Known risk factors for penile cancer are these.
- Age (especially age 60 or older).
- Smoking or using other tobacco products.
- Lack of circumcision at birth.
- Phimosis. That is, difficulty in pulling foreskin back from head of penis.
- Having HIV/AIDS infection.
- Having papillomavirus (HPV). This refers to a group of over 100 related viruses.
- Having multiple sexual partners.
- Having a sex partner who has had sex with many other partners.
- Not using a condom.
- Having had sex at an early age.
- Not cleaning underneath the intact foreskin.
- Having smegma. That’s a substance that can accumulate under the foreskin. It’s dead skin cells, bacteria, and oily secretions from the skin.
- Receiving psoriasis treatment with the drug psoralen and UV light.
Possible symptoms of penile cancer include these on or from the penis.
- A lump
However, many other things can cause these symptoms. So it’s wise to see a doctor. Better safe than sorry.
Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing penile cancer. On the other hand, the moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with better health and greater longevity. That’s in comparison to either abstaining or drinking heavily.
What is Moderate Drinking?
Drinking in moderation has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It’s a man having four standard drinks on any day and an average of 14 drinks per week.
- 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer
- Five-ounce glass of dinner wine
- One shot (one and one-half ounces) of spirits. That’s whiskey, vodka, tequila, rum, gin, etc.
Standard drinks contain the same amounts of alcohol. Specifically, it’s 0.6 of an ounce of pure alcohol.
There’s no evidence that any form of alcoholic beverage gives more health benefits. That is, beer, wine, and spirits are equally helpful.
Resources on Alcohol and Cancer of the Penis
Bullen, K. Looking past the obvious. Experiences of altered masculinity in penile cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 2010, 19(9), 933-40.
D’Ancona, C. et al. Quality of life after partial penectomy. Urology, 1997, 50(4), 593-6.
Eardley, I. Living with Penile Cancer. In Muneer, A. and Horenblas, S. (eds) Penile Cancer. Cham, Swit: Springer, 2016, 295-301.
Edwards, M. Penile cancer: Helping men to take lumps seriously. Practice Nursing, 2009, 20(6), 307-9.
Williams, A. Sexual Health Information for Teens. Detroit: Omni, 2018.
This website is informational only. Thus it gives no opinion on alcohol and cancer of the penis.