Heavy Drinkers Beware – Your Prostate Could Be At Risk

Posted on Sep 8, 2009 | Comments Off on Heavy Drinkers Beware – Your Prostate Could Be At Risk

Heavy Drinkers Beware – Your Prostate Could Be At Risk

Heavy Drinking Can Raise Your Prostate Cancer Risk By 20%

Given mainstream medicine’s heavy reliance on prescription drugs, it’s all-too-common practice to turn to a pill to solve your problems—in fact, many patients mistakenly assume that pharmaceutical intervention is the first (and only) line of defense you ever need.

But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth… and this is a very dangerous misconception. The bottom line: Poor lifestyle choices can undermine the benefits of even the most powerful drugs every time. And the latest results of the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) is offering some of the most compelling evidence of this undeniable fact to date.

In recent data published in the journal Cancer, researchers examined the potential links between heavy drinking (that is, four or more drinks per day, five or more days per week) and prostate cancer risk. The subjects were all men aged 55 or older—2129 of whom had cancer detected over the course of a seven-year period, and 8791 of whom were determined cancer-free according to end-of-trial biopsies.

This large-scale trial was randomized, with one group assigned the popular chemopreventive drug finasteride (also known by the brand names Propecia or Proscar) and the other assigned a placebo. Results evaluated the influence of drinking patterns on total, low-grade, and high-grade prostate cancer risk in both groups.
The result? Even though previous studies on this very subject have been inconclusive—two meta-analyses showed a 20-percent increase in prostate cancer risk among heavy drinkers, but most have found no association between the two—the conclusion of this particular trial was striking. Researchers found that heavy drinking on a daily basis dramatically increased subjects risk for high-grade prostate cancer across the board… while light to moderate drinking, and even occasional binge drinking, did not.

Perhaps even more striking, however, was the effect that these same drinking habits demonstrated on the risk of low-grade prostate cancer. Regular heavy alcohol intake appeared to have no influence on total or low-grade cancer risk—at least, not among the placebo group. Patients taking finasteride, on the other hand, were a very different story.

Among this group, heavy drinking increased total cancer risk by a whopping 89 percent—and increased low-grade cancer risk by an even more dramatic 101 percent.

Why the stark contrast? Study authors concluded that heavy drinking habits are capable of erasing the clinical benefits of the drug finasteride—which reduced prostate cancer risk among non-drinkers by as much as 43 percent—completely.

This is a perfect example of the critical importance of an integrative, holistic approach in the treatment of disease—and in this case, prostate cancer. Too often, people believe that they can make up for bad habits with the help of a magic pill. But whether you’re compensating for a cholesterol-laden diet with statin drugs, or combating excess stress with blood pressure drugs, this “strategy” is the equivalent of taking one step forward and two steps back when it comes to recovering your health.

Lifestyle changes—from diet and exercise, to drinking habits and stress relief—will always be the most critical factors in effective disease prevention. And maybe the most important lesson here is that no single drug is an acceptable substitute for common sense… no matter how powerful it may be.

SOURCE: Gong Z, Kristal AR, Schenk JM, Tangen CM, Goodman PJ, Thompson IM. “Alcohol consumption, finasteride, and prostate cancer risk: results fromt eh prostate cancer prevention trial.” Cancer. 2009 Jul 13. [Epub ahead of print]