Johns Hopkins Health Alert
Should You Avoid Alcohol If You Have BPH?
Many men believe that they should not drink alcohol because they have an enlarged prostate (BPH). In this article from our Prostate Bulletin, medical editor Dr. Jacek L. Mostwin reviews the evidence and his conclusions may surprise you.
Even in this evidence-based world of ours, many medical myths and old wives' tales still survive. "A lot of men read in men's magazines or their local newspapers that once you have a prostate problem, you're not to drink a drop of alcohol, because it will make your BPH symptoms worse," said Mark A. Moyad, M.D., M.P.H. "This is why Dr. Roehrborn's finding is a critical finding, and I'm glad this research came out."
What exactly what did Dr. Claus Roehrborn uncover in his examination of more than 19,000 men? Dr. Roehrborn, the director of Urology at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas, reported that the more alcohol men drank, the better their BPH symptoms were, dismissing the persistent myth that drinking alcohol worsens voiding symptoms.
"Those who drink alcohol had a lower total International Prostate Symptom Score compared to those who do not drink," said Dr. Roehrborn. "There was a striking difference in scores between alcohol consumers and those who never consume. People who drink are less bothered by their irritative prostate symptoms and have less trouble."
"People who do not drink have worse overall symptoms, poorer flow rates and are less likely to be sexually active," noted Dr. Roehrborn. "Why this would be is hard to explain. One of the ideas is that alcohol influences circulating levels of androgens, testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, which are clearly important in the biology of the prostate. However, across all groups in our study, the levels of hormones were all the same, so it doesn't serve well as an explanation. And differences in prostate size and body weight can't sufficiently explain this finding. All we can say is that people who drink complain of fewer or milder BPH symptoms.
"I am advocating that doctors with patients complaining of voiding symptoms stop telling them, 'Don't drink alcohol, it will worsen your BPH symptoms.' This advice is not founded on evidence. We had a large number of men, 19,000 across five continents, and a large spectrum of ages, and this advice was not found to be true."
Dr. Roehrborn's study adds to the growing body of research pointing out the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption on health. If you are a teetotaler, you should certainly not start drinking in hopes of reducing your BPH symptoms. Heavy drinking can damage the heart, liver and other organs, and can lead to accidents, which is why many medical groups do not recommend drinking alcohol. However, if you already drink, do so moderately -- a drink or two per day. One drink is generally defined as 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine, or 1.5 oz. of 80-proof spirits.
Posted in Enlarged Prostate on April 21, 2009
Reviewed June 2011
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