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The association of alcohol consumption with the risk of prostate cancer

Scientific data are mixed on the association of alcohol consumption with the risk of prostate cancer. In the present paper, the authors have used data from 11, 372 subjects in the Older Finnish Twin Cohort who provided data on alcohol intake on two occasions. They were followed for the development of prostate cancer from 1981 to 2012, during which 601 incident cases of prostate cancer and 110 deaths from prostate cancer occurred. The authors relate reported average alcohol intake, and whether or not the subject reported binge drinking, to the risk of prostate cancer and prostate cancer-specific death. They also evaluated the risks of prostate cancer among alcohol-discordant twins. The authors used current abstainers and ex-drinkers as the referent group in their main analyses, but did sensitivity analyses using never drinkers as an alternative referent group.

The type of beverage consumed was not known, so whether or not wine or beer consumption may have a different relation with prostate cancer than spirits intake cannot be determined. However, overall the data indicated a higher risk of prostate cancer from heavy intake and binge drinking, but also a high risk among abstainers. The number of discordant twins (for alcohol consumption) was too small for definitive results in terms of the risk of prostate cancer among subjects with the same or a similar genetic background , but the lowest risk was among light drinkers who did not binge drink. Even among this subset of the population, abstainers had higher risk than light drinkers.

Thus, the results of this well-done study suggest that there may be a J-shaped relation between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer risk. Light drinkers appear to have the most favorable results for both incident prostate cancer and prostate cancer-specific mortality. The risk for subjects reporting heavy drinking and binge drinking was higher for both incidence and mortality than the risk of light drinkers; for unexplained reasons, abstainers also tended to have higher risk of prostate cancer and mortality.

Reference: Dickerman BA, Markt SC, Koskenvuo M, Pukkala E, Muccil LA, Kaprio J. Alcohol intake, drinking patterns, and prostate cancer risk and mortality: a 30-year prospective cohort study of Finnish twins. Cancer Causes Control 2016;27:1049–1058. DOI 10.1007/s10552-016-0778-6

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