Continuing study shows that while alcohol has health risks if not used in moderation, in moderation it appears to have benefits. On top of data to suggest some protection against heart and vascular disease is evidence that modest alcohol consumption of 36 grams (about 1.2 ounces) daily can significantly reduce the risk of men developing prostatic enlargement. Prostatic enlargement, or BPH, is a common fact of life for all men as they age. After about age 40, the prostate begins to grow again (first growth is at puberty followed by stability in prostate size until middle-age). Prostate enlargement does not necessarily cause symptoms for all men. However, a large percentage of men will be come symptomatic over time requiring medication, surgery or alternative minimally invasive therapy (such as laser or microwave). Interestingly alcohol consumption did not have an impact on the occurrence of LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms) which can consist of frequency, urgency, nocturia (frequent night time urination) slowed urinary stream, incomplete emptying and hesitancy (stopping and starting of urinary stream) and several studies showed that alcohol consumption increased the incidence of LUTS. Of course the impact of some alcoholic beverages, especially beer, on urinary frequency is well known. The studies are summarized next.
Study Summaries In addition to age, 9 other significant determinants for LUTS suggestive of BPH were identified. Functional bladder capacity, post-void residual urine volume, treatment for cardiac diseases, education level, antidepressant use, calcium antagonist use, erectile function or dysfunction, prostate specific antigen and family history of prostate cancer were all determinants of significance. Not all risk factors for LUTS suggestive of BPH are accounted for. This is true as we know that 1 of 3 men without these risk factors will still be diagnosed with LUTS suggestive of BPH between ages 50 and 80 years. Some studies have indicated that alcohol consumption is associated with a decreased risk of BPH. Associations of alcohol consumption with BPH and male LUTS were evaluated which showed that alcohol consumption is associated with a decreased likelihood of BPH but not of LUTS. The mechanism of action by which alcohol inhibits BPH is not understood and will require additional study. Compared to no alcohol intake, alcohol intake of 36 gm daily or greater was associated with a 35% decreased likelihood of BPH (p In the end we can say that moderation in alcohol consumption is most likely beneficial in many ways, including reduction in the incidence of BPH. However, the key word is moderation, as we know that excessive alcohol use results in many negative outcomes for health and well-being.
Alcohol Consumption is Associated With a Decreased Risk of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Journal of Urology, Volume 182, Issue 4, Pages 1463-1468 (October 2009)
Risk Factors for Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms Suggestive of Benign ProstaticHyperplasia in a Community Based Population of Healthy Aging Men: The Krimpen Study, Journal of Urology, Volume 181, Issue 2, Pages 710-716 (February 2009)