Cancer of the prostate gland is the most common form of cancer in men in the US. In fact, almost 200,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year. Therefore, the subject of drinking alcohol and prostate cancer risk concerns many men.
A number of medical organizations have carefully analyzed the medical research evidence. They include the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the National Cancer Institute, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Mayo Clinic. They and other medical organizations have concluded that drinking alcohol does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
There are usually not any symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer. That’s why men should regularly have a physical exam and blood test. This helps detect the disease in its early stages. Although the digital exam isn’t pleasant, it could save your life.
However, symptoms that might indicate prostate cancer include these.
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination.
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
- Blood in urine or semen.
- Painful ejaculation.
- Difficulty in having erections.
- Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips, or upper thighs. 7
These symptoms do not necessarily mean prostate cancer. However, men should see a doctor whenever any symptoms occur.
Drinking alcohol is not a risk factor for developing prostate cancer. On the other hand, the moderate drinking is associated with better health and greater longevity. That’s in comparison to either abstaining from alcohol or drinking heavily.
Moderate drinking has been described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). It’s a man having four 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 is whiskey, vodka, tequila, gin, rum, etc.
Standard drinks have the same amount of alcohol. Specifically, it’s 0.6 (six-tenths) ounce of pure alcohol.
There is no evidence that any form of alcoholic beverage gives more health benefits. That is, wine, spirits, and beer are equally helpful.
Resources: Alcohol and Prostate Cancer
Books & Videos
Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer: a Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer. Wellington: Cancer Society, 2019.
Living with Prostate Cancer. San Francisco: Kanopy, 2016 (eVideo).
Melman, A. and Newnham, R. After Prostate Cancer: a Guide to a Recovery. NY: Oxford U Press, 2011.
Westbrook, D. So, I have Prostate Cancer, What Now? : a guide for men and their partners living with Prostate Cancer. St. Leonards, NSW: Prostate Cancer Found, 2008 (DVD Video).