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Int J Epidemiol. 2001 Aug;30(4):749-55.

Alcohol consumption and risk of prostate cancer: The Harvard Alumni Health Study.

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Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Although many studies suggest that consumption of alcohol increases the risk of several site-specific cancers, the evidence remains unclear for prostate cancer. Few data exist on beverage-specific associations as well as lifetime patterns of alcohol consumption and prostate cancer risk.


We prospectively followed 7612 Harvard alumni (mean age 66.6 years) from 1988 through 1993, during which 366 cases of incident prostate cancer occurred. Self-reported alcohol consumption was assessed at baseline from wine, beer, and liquor intake. Previous assessments during college and in 1977 were also available.


Overall, the mean total alcohol consumption in 1988 was 123.1 g/week, of which 28.6% was from wine, 15.8% from beer, and 55.6% from liquor. Compared to men reporting almost never drinking alcohol in 1988, the multivariate relative risks (95% CI) for 1 drink/month to < 3 drinks/week, 3 drinks/week to < 1 drink/ day, 1 to < 3 drinks/day, and > or = 3 drinks/day were 1.33 (0.88-2.01), 1.65 (1.12-2.44), 1.85 (1.29-2.64), and 1.33 (0.86-2.05), respectively. Wine or beer consumption was unassociated with prostate cancer; however, moderate liquor consumption was associated with a significant 61-67% increased risk of prostate cancer (P, non-linear trend < 0.001). Men initiating alcohol consumption between 1977 and 1988 had a twofold increased risk of prostate cancer compared to men with almost no alcohol consumption at both times.


In contrast to the majority of previous studies, we found a positive association between moderate alcohol consumption and the risk of prostate cancer. Liquor, but not wine or beer, consumption was positively associated with prostate cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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