Alcohol increases the risk of prostate cancer

Emobileclinic Researchers’ corner

The role of alcohol yet played out in a recent study published on journal of nutrition which observed the effects of proinflammatory diet on high dietary inflammatory index.  The author  of the study observed an increase in prostrate cancer among men with heavy alcohol intake  and breast cancer for low to moderate alcohol intake. Ironically women who drank more alcohol were not affected with breast cancer but the author explained why this happened in the study so as not to be misunderstood as ticket or licence to heavy alcohol intake by women.

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He explained  dietary Inflammatory Index (DII) as ”a literature-derived scoring system that was developed to estimate the pro- and anti-inflammatory potential of the overall diet and to investigate its possible relations with chronic diseases,”

The author of the study; Mathilde Touvier of Nutritional Epidemiology Research Team, Sorbonne Paris Cité Epidemiology and Statistics Research Center, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research studied 36 out of the 45 dietary variables available in the database and categorized pro and anti DII. Energy intake, protein, carbohydrate, total fat, SFAs, cholesterol, vitamin B-12, and iron constituted  the proinflammatory factors, whereas dietary intake of MUFAs, PUFAs, n–3 FAs, n–6 FAs, alcohol, fiber, magnesium, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folic acid, β-carotene, anthocyanidins, flavan-3-ol, flavonols, flavanones, flavones, isoflavones, garlic, ginger, pepper, onions, and tea were entered as anti-inflammatory factors. The researchers however pointed out that the study among other results gotten, promotes an anti-inflammatory dietary pattern which  may contribute to cancer prevention.

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 6542 participated in the study ; 3771 women and 2771 men with age between 49 to 51 and BMI between 24 to 27 .The DII was based on 36 food variables and  higher scores corresponded to more proinflammatory diets. A total of 559 incident cancers were diagnosed including 158 female breast and 123 prostate cancers (the 2 main cancer sites in this cohort).

Daily comsumption of alcoholic were analysed by stratification and  sex-specific quartiles of the DII were positively associated with prostate cancer risk but not with overall or breast cancer risks. There was an interaction between the DII and alcohol intake (grams per day) on overall cancer risk :the DII was positively associated with overall cancer risk in low-to-moderate alcohol drinkers whereas no association was detected in higher consumers of alcohol. This interaction was also observed for breast cancer . The author gave the following reasons while the pro- or anti-inflammatory potential of the diet may influence cancer risk in low-to-moderate drinkers while being exceeded by the deleterious effect of alcohol in heavier drinkers. According to him ” because of the DII design, higher alcohol intake makes DII scores lower and may scramble the results because alcohol simultaneously increases cancer risk. This also may explain the inverse association between the DII and breast cancer risk observed in higher alcohol drinkers, which is unlikely to be causal. Indeed, although analyses were adjusted for alcohol intake, it may be difficult to disentangle the effect of alcohol”. He further explained that this was not the case when alcohol was observed based on its classes . ”We previously showed an interaction between several classes of polyphenols and alcohol intake on breast cancer risk . Although an inverse association was observed between polyphenols and breast cancer risk in women with an alcohol intake below the median, a direct association was observed with higher consumption of alcohol. Because several classes of polyphenols are included in the DII calculation as anti-inflammatory factors, this adds further complexity to the association between the DII, alcohol, and breast cancer risk,” he clarified.

Numerous studies had shown that alcohol contributes to the DII computation as an anti-inflammatory marker. Nevertheless, alcohol is acknowledged to be a major risk factor in many cancers and known to be involved in several procarcinogenic mechanisms -DNA damage, generation of reactive oxygen species, increase in circulating estrogens. 

The researchers concluded that their findings  suggest that a ”proinflammatory diet may be associated with increased prostate cancer risk. When models were stratified by alcohol intake, a major cancer risk factor, a proinflammatory diet also was associated with increased overall and breast cancer risk in low-to-moderate drinkers. These results provide interesting insights for the understanding of the relations between diet and cancer risk, and inflammation-based underlying mechanisms,” they noted.


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