Saturday, November 28, 2015

Movember: Alcohol, especially liquor, increases prostate risk and skews PSA

November – or MOvember – is the month when men's health issues are brought into the spotlight as guys kiss their razors goodbye in favor of a furry face, the lumbersexual look, or a well-groomed mustache, beard, soul patch or goatee. The campaign has been around for over a decade, starting as a fun excuse to can the Gillette, but now has become linked with prostate health awareness. (Read the episode #64 transcript or share the YouTube video.)

Let’s start with the alcohol. A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Cancer raises concerns about alcohol's ability to throw off prostate cancer tests. The PSA test – PSA is prostate-specific antigen – measures for elevated antigen levels which are a possible indicator of prostate cancer. Levels may be abnormally high for other reasons as well, such as an enlarged prostate or various lifestyle factors.

In the study, 2,400 men who had PSA-detected prostate cancer and 12,700 men who didn't were evaluated. The investigators found a modestly higher risk of prostate cancer among heavy drinkers, they also observed evidence of lower PSA levels associated with increasing consumption of alcohol. This means it can be more difficult to detect prostate cancer using PSA levels among men who are heavy drinkers.

In an older study of Harvard alumni, researchers concluded wine or beer consumption was unassociated with prostate cancer; however, moderate liquor consumption was associated with a significant 61-67 percent increased risk of prostate cancer. Keep in mind, the study subjects were Harvard alumni, so they were probably affluent and weren't dolts, but other lifestyle factors such as diet or exercise were not charted.

Clinically, alcohol increases the amount of urine entering the bladder. It also causes the exit to the bladder to constrict, making urination more difficult and alcohol will hinder the ability of the prostate muscle to relax, further irritating the bladder and making enlarged prostate symptoms worse. For Movember and the rest of the year, alcohol does more potential harm than help for the prostate, or any other part of the body, regardless of the type of alcohol consumed.

Stevens is the Director of Marketing for The Manor.  Visit for a replay of CBS Sports' Power Up Your Health featuring Scott Stevens.  Host Ed Forteau led a discussion on risky myths of about "healthy" drinking.  Lucy Pireel's "All That's Written" included a feature on Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud called "When alcohol doesn't work for you anymore."  Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud and the first for Adding Fire to the Fuel also can be found on, plus the NEW book, Adding Fire to the Fuel, is now available. Download the FREE Alcohology app in the Google PlayStore today