Among current drinkers, binge drinkers – defined as consuming 5 or more drinks in one sitting at least once per month – were at a 28% increased risk of prostate cancer compared to non-binge drinkers. Intriguingly, we found that abstinence was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality compared to light alcohol consumption.
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The biologic mechanisms potentially linking alcohol and prostate cancer are complex. Heavy regular or binge drinking may increase prostate cancer risk through the production of carcinogenic metabolites such as acetaldehyde, promotion of oxidative stress, and enhancement of carcinogen solubility and absorption. Conversely, high alcohol intake may lower testosterone levels – an altered hormonal profile that might be expected to decrease prostate cancer risk. Further investigation is needed to explore how the balance between alcohol’s potentially adverse and protective effects varies by exposure level and how this impacts different stages of prostate carcinogenesis and grades of disease.
Written by: Barbra Dickerman
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