Alcohol consumption increases cancer risk in men, too.

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under CANCER

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alcohol-funny-glassesIt was only earlier this year that the Million Women Study reported the following: alcohol consumption even at low levels increases women’s risk for cancer.

It seems that the same is true for men as well. Canadian researchers have recently reported that moderate to heavy drinking increases the risk among men of developing several types of cancer.

About 13 cancers are linked to lifetime heavy alcohol consumption, among them are:

  • Esophageal cancer, with a 7-fold risk increase
  • Colon cancer, 80% increase
  • Lung cancer, 50% increase
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Prostate cancer

The strongest link was found to be with esophageal and liver cancer. This doesn’t come as surprise to me. My eldest brother died of esophageal cancer 4 years ago which metastasized to his liver. He had been a heavy drinker for more than 20 years.

These significantly increased risks, however, were not observed among moderate (less than daily) and light drinkers.

And as expected, the more alcohol is consumed, the higher is the risk of having cancer. In fact, the study results indicate that alcohol consumption may be responsible for up to 5% of cancer deaths.

The researchers from the University of Montreal looked at 3,600 study participants and data on their cancer history and alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption is especially linked to a very aggressive type of prostate cancer. In another study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, alcohol consumption was found to counteract the effect of finasteride (Proscar), a drug used as prophylactic therapy to prevent cancer of the prostate. The study concluded that

“Heavy, daily drinking increased the risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Heavy drinking made finasteride ineffective for reducing prostate cancer risk.”

For wine lovers, it might be comforting to know that this link to cancer was only observed for beer and spirit consumption but not for wine. However, hasty conclusions should not be made before more data are available.

According to author Dr. Andrea Benedetti of McGill University

“For the most part we showed that light drinkers were less affected or not affected at all. It is people who drink every day or multiple times a day who are at risk. This adds to the growing body of evidence that heavy drinking is extremely unhealthy in so many ways. Cancer very much included.”

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