Alcohol Healthwatch and the Cancer Society are concerned about reports in the media of an American study that suggest that beer may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and both organisations believe these reports should be treated with caution.

The study conducted by the Oregon State University College of Health and Human Sciences has identified that an ingredient in beer ‘xanthohumol’ has a protective effect against prostate cancer however, researcher Emily Ho advises that a person would need to drink 17 pints a day to gain this effect.

While the researchers are certainly not advising this level of drinking, Director of Alcohol Healthwatch Rebecca Williams says these types of studies need to be reported with particular care.

We do not want people believing that they need to be drinking or drinking more to avoid prostate or any other kind of cancer when in fact the opposite is true. Alcohol consumption heightens the risk of 60 plus negative health consequences, including a range of cancers.

Adrian Knowles, Health Promotion Manager at the Auckland Cancer Society says that research has established a link between drinking alcohol and certain cancers. This is acknowledged in the New Zealand Cancer Control Strategy that has a specific objective to reduce the number of people developing alcohol-related cancers.

Alcohol consumption has no universal health benefit and it’s time drinkers stopped kidding themselves they are drinking to improve their health. Williams says that while acknowledging the social benefits that people attribute to drinking alcohol these must be weighed up against the increased risk of injury, violence, cancers, depression and other negative health outcomes.

Media Contacts:
Rebecca Williams
Alcohol Healthwatch
Ph: (09) 520 7035
Mob: 021 862 250

Adrian Knowles
Health Promotion Manager
Ak Cancer Society
Ph: (09) 308 0165

For Alcohol Healthwatch fact sheet on the health effects of alcohol consumption see
For the Cancer Society New Zealand position statement on alcohol and cancer