Purpose: Several lines of evidence suggest that prostate cancer has a hormonal etiology. We evaluated factors known to modulate the endocrine system, including alcohol and tobacco use, physical activity, and obesity as risk factors for prostate cancer.
Methods: Cancer-free controls who participated in a population-based case-control study from 1986-1989 (81% response rate) were followed through 1995 for cancer incidence by linkage to the Iowa Cancer Registry; 101 incident prostate cancers were identified.
Results: Compared with non-users of alcohol, men who consumed <22 grams alcohol per week (relative risk [RR] = 1.1; 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 0.6-2.1), 22-96 grams alcohol per week (RR = 2.6; 95% CI 1.4-4. 6) and >96 grams alcohol per week (RR = 3.1; 95% CI 1.5-6.3) were at increased risk of prostate cancer after adjustment for age, family history of prostate cancer, body mass index, total energy, and intake of carbohydrate, linoleic acid, lycopene, retinol, and red meat (p for trend < 0.0001). The respective RRs were similar when assessing type of alcohol consumed (beer, wine or liquor) or when well-differentiated, localized tumors were excluded. Body mass index was only weakly and positively associated with prostate cancer after adjustment for age, but this association strengthened after multivariate adjustment and exclusion of well-differentiated, localized tumors. For the latter tumors, men with a BMI of 24.1-26.6 kg/m(2) and >26.6 kg/m(2) were at elevated risk compared to men with a BMI <24.1 kg/m(2). Tobacco use (cigarettes, cigar/pipe, chewing tobacco and snuff use), height, weight, and both leisure and occupational physical activity were not associated with risk of prostate cancer in this cohort.
Conclusions: These data suggest that in white men obesity is a risk factor for more clinically significant prostate cancer and confirm limited previous reports showing that alcohol consumption is positively associated with prostate cancer and that this risk is not limited to any specific type of alcohol.