American researchers have found that alcohol use during adolescence — from 7 drinks per week — was associated with a 3.2-fold higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.
Most of the time, prostate cancer remains “dormant”, evolves slowly and has no impact on the patient’s life. But in some cases, this cancer can take an aggressive form. Researchers at the University of North Carolina (USA) worked and investigated whether alcohol consumption during adolescence could favor it. Their study appeared in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
Researchers have come to the conclusion that the prostate is an organ that grows rapidly during puberty, making it potentially vulnerable to carcinogens during adolescence, such as alcohol. They analyzed the data of 650 men, aged between 49 and 89, who underwent a prostate biopsy. The men also answered a questionnaire assessing their alcohol consumption in each decade. As a result, 325 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer including 88 with high-grade cancer (aggressive).
Compared to non-drinkers, men who consumed at least 7 glasses of alcohol per week during adolescence (15-19 years) were 3.2 times more likely to develop prostate cancer ranking officer. However, alcohol consumption was not associated with prostate cancer in general, but with its severity.
Similar associations were observed among those who consumed at least 7 alcoholic beverages per week between the ages of 20 and 29, 30 to 39 and 40 to 49 years, resulting in 3.14, 3.09 and 3.64 times the probability of high-grade prostate cancer, respectively. However, current alcohol use was not significantly associated with aggressive prostate cancer.
“Our findings may explain why previous evidence linking alcohol use and prostate cancer has been somewhat mixed,” study author Emma Allott said in a statement. “It is possible that the effect of alcohol comes from consumption over a lifetime, or earlier in youth, and not alcohol consumption at the time of diagnosis.” However, the study has several limitations, such as an approximation with participants’ memory of past consumption, but also interference with the effects of smoking since the heavy drinkers were also important smokers.