Consuming Alcohol After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis is Detrimental, Canadian Study Says

Consuming Alcohol After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis is Detrimental, Canadian Study Says
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Alcohol consumption after prostate cancer diagnosis is associated with reduced prostate cancer-specific survival, specifically in men who consume more than two drinks per day, according to a Canadian study.

The study, “Post-diagnosis alcohol intake and prostate cancer survival: A population-based cohort study,” appeared in the International Journal of Cancer.

Excessive alcohol consumption is a major health concern, as it has been declared a cancer-causing substance by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and is a potential risk factor for several types of cancer. Also, some studies have suggested that the risk is dependent on how much alcohol is consumed, with heavy drinkers having the higher risk.

Regarding prostate cancer, a recent meta-analysis has linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk of prostate cancer. However, evidence for an association between alcohol consumption post-diagnosis and prostate cancer survival remains inconsistent.

To investigate how alcohol consumption post-diagnosis was related to survival in men diagnosed with prostate cancer, researchers examined 829 patients diagnosed between 1997 and 2000, in Alberta, Canada.

All patients had invasive prostate cancer and were younger than 80 years (average of 67.3 years). Information regarding pre- and post-diagnosis alcohol consumption, clinical features, and lifestyle factors was collected shortly after diagnosis, and again after two-to-three years. Participants were followed for up to 19 years to assess survival outcomes.

The majority of participants (92.1%) reported drinking alcohol in their lifetimes, and 71% after diagnosis (more than once a month for six months). Men with the highest alcohol consumption appeared to be less active, current or former smokers, and to live in urban areas.

Less than two drinks/day – the recommended consumption by the Canadian Cancer Society – after diagnosis were associated with a 23% reduced risk of all-cause death, compared with those who did not drink. However, men who drank two or more drinks per day had a 45% increased risk of all-cause death, compared to those who drank less.

The consumption of less than two drinks a day after diagnosis also increased the risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality by 82% compared with non-drinkers, and 61% compared with light drinkers.

Importantly, men who reported elevated alcohol consumption both before and after diagnosis showed the higher risk of prostate cancer-related death, increased by more than two-fold, as compared to non-drinkers or those who drank less.

No statistically significant associations were found between alcohol consumption and the risk of first recurrence/progression or new primary cancer in these men, although there was some suggestion of increased risk.

The team noted that the study included only patients with invasive prostate cancer, and that the data on alcohol consumption may not be accurate, as patients may under-report or overestimate their consumption for various reasons. So, future studies using larger populations are needed to confirm these results.

Marta Figueiredo holds a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology from the University of Lisbon, Portugal. She is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Lisbon, where she focused her research on the role of several signalling pathways in thymus and parathyroid glands embryonic development.
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Marta Figueiredo holds a BSc in Biology and a MSc in Evolutionary and Developmental Biology from the University of Lisbon, Portugal. She is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Lisbon, where she focused her research on the role of several signalling pathways in thymus and parathyroid glands embryonic development.
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