Alcohol and the risk of prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia

Urology. 2004 Oct;64(4):717-22. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2004.05.002.


Objectives: To examine the association between alcohol and the risk of prostate cancer/benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in a population with a wide range of alcohol consumption, using a hospital-based, case-control study. Data from several epidemiologic studies have allowed us to exclude a strong association between alcohol drinking and prostate cancer risk. However, limited information is available for BPH. Also, it is unclear whether various types of alcoholic beverages may have a different impact on risk.

Methods: We conducted this hospital-based case-control study in Italy between 1991 and 2002. A total of 2663 men younger than 75 years had incident, histologically confirmed prostate carcinoma (1294 cases) or symptomatic obstructive BPH (1369 cases) (maximal flow rate less than 15 mL/s) refractory to medical treatment. A total of 1451 patients younger than 75 years were used as controls. Odds ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals were estimated using unconditional multiple logistic regression models including terms for age, center, education, body mass index, physical activity, and family history of prostate cancer.

Results: Alcohol consumption showed no consistent association with prostate cancer risk, but a statistically significant inverse trend in risk for BPH. Compared with abstainers, the odds ratio was 0.88 for fewer than three drinks, 0.71 for three to four drinks, 0.79 for five to six drinks, and 0.65 for seven or more drinks per day. The patterns of risk were similar with reference to different alcoholic beverages. The inverse relation between elevated alcohol consumption and BPH was apparently stronger in subjects with a lower body mass index.

Conclusions: Alcohol drinking is unrelated to prostate cancer risk. The inverse relationship with BPH may be related to the hormonal correlates (ie, lower androgen levels) of heavy alcohol drinkers.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects
  • Alcoholic Beverages / classification
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Beer / adverse effects
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / etiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Wine / adverse effects


  • Androgens