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Alcohol and smoking

After a diagnosis of cancer, men often want to know about smoking and alcohol and what they can do to help themselves.


There is no evidence that alcohol affects the growth of prostate cancer. But keeping within the government guidelines can help you to maintain a healthy weight and is better for your overall health.

The government guidelines produced in 2016 state that there is no level of regular drinking that can be considered completely safe. If you choose to drink, the guidelines outline the amount of alcohol that will keep the health risks of alcohol to a low level. This is

  • To drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
  • If you drink this amount, to spread this evenly over at least 3 days.
  • To have some drink free days in the week to help cut down on the amount you drink.


Stopping smoking is generally a good thing to do to help you feel fitter. Some early research suggests that continuing to smoke following a diagnosis of prostate cancer may increase the risk of the cancer coming back and of developing second primary cancers. There is support for people who want to stop smoking at NHS Smokefree.


How to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level: public consultation on proposed new guidelines. Department of Health January, 2016

Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. Rock et al (and others). CA:A Journal for Clinicians. July/August 2012 Vol 62, Issue 4 pages 242-274 

Tobacco smoking and the risk of subsequent primary cancer among cancer survivors; a retrospective cohort study. Tabuchi T(and others). Annals of Oncology. 2013. 24 (10): 2699-2704

Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of biochemical disease recurrence, metastasis, castration-resistant prostate cancer, and mortality after radical prostatectomy: results from the SEARCH database. Moreira (and others). Cancer. 2014  Jan 15;120(2):197-204

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Updated: 14 July 2016