Drinking Alcohol Raises Prostate Cancer Risk in African Americans

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Lionel L. Bañez, MD
Lionel L. Bañez, MD

SAN FRANCISCO—Alcohol consumption may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer in African-American men, according to researchers.

A team led by Lionel L. Bañez, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., prospectively collected data, including information on alcohol intake, from 334 men undergoing prostate biopsy at Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center from 2007 to 2009.

Overall, regular consumption of three alcoholic drinks per week was associated with a significant 2.46 times increased risk of prostate cancer, the investigators reported here at the Genitourinary Cancers Symposium. When the investigators stratified subjects by race, alcohol intake was associated with a significant fivefold increased risk of prostate cancer in African Americans but a nonsignificant 85% increased risk in Caucasians.

“There may be genetic differences in the way African Americans metabolize alcohol,” Dr. Bañez said.

If the findings are confirmed in other populations, he and his colleagues concluded, public awareness of the negative effects of alcohol intake on prostate cancer, specifically in African Americans, should be promoted.

Most studies examining the association between alcohol consumption and prostate cancer risk have found no link, but these studies have involved predominantly Caucasian men, he said. Previous studies have found that certain polymorphisms of the alcohol dehydrogenase gene specific to African and Native Americans may lead to bodily accumulations of acetaldehyde, a carcinogen, Dr. Bañez explained.

The symposium is sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Society for Radiation Oncology, and the Society of Urologic Oncology.

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