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HOUSE Calls: Questions About Diabetes and Prostate Cancer

January 30, 2012 by Editor in Consumer News, Featured, HOUSE Calls

Physicians from the UNC Department of Family Medicine’s YOUR HEALTH™ media bring you weekly information in response to your questions about health and medicine. Send us your questions or comments to YOURHEALTH@unc.edu.LargeHouseCallsLogo

This week we respond to questions about diabetes and prostate cancer.

Dear HOUSE Calls,

My brother takes insulin for his diabetes and drinks quite a bit of alcohol. Is that a problem?

That is a really good question. It sounds like you may be concerned about your brother’s alcohol intake with or without the diabetes, so you should consider opening dialogue as this may be a problem for him.

Specific to the diabetes and insulin, we have a few thoughts. First off, alcohol does not have much effect of the blood sugar or insulin levels in and of itself. It is not a high glycemic food like potatoes or candy bars. However, many types of alcoholic drinks are high in sugar and carbohydrates which will increase your blood sugar. Likewise, they all add substantial calories which will make the weight control that is so important for diabetics more difficult. Also, drinking too much alcohol can lead to bad decisions regarding diet. Lastly, high levels of regular alcohol consumption over time can stress out the pancreas and make it less able to respond and contribute to the control of blood sugar.

Drinking alcohol can affect your blood pressure levels, which is very important if you have diabetes. So over, there are a lot of down sides to your brother’s health and not much in the way of benefits. Hopefully you can share this information with him and start a conversation. Good luck.

Dear HOUSE Calls,

I am a 41-year-old black male. What do I need to know about prostate cancer?

Thank you for the question. There has been a lot in the media about prostate cancer screening and it can be so confusing.

Because you are black, your lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer is 16% but your lifetime risk of dying from prostate cancer is only 2.9% which is somewhat higher than for white people. Genetics is the most important risk factor, and there is nothing you can do about it. Screening and early diagnosis seemed like a good idea for the past decade or so.

However, the most recent and highest quality studies show that men don’t live any longer if they get prostate cancer screening, so we are by and large not recommending it anymore. We will give men over 50 their choice about PSA testing and explain to them the pros and cons of testing. Symptoms of prostate cancer can be similar to enlarged prostate symptoms. If you are having trouble emptying your bladder, weak stream, or dribbling, you should discuss this with your doctor.

HOUSE Calls is a weekly column by Dr. Adam Goldstein, Dr. Cristy Page, and Dr. Adam Zolotor on behalf of YOUR HEALTH™ and the UNC Department of Family Medicine.

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  • Douglas

    I think men SHOULD get screened.Although, ON AVERAGE, people might not live longer you may live longer if you IN PARTICULAR,are found to have cancer.I was in the hospital with a broken arm when mine was detected and I had had no symptoms.That was fifteen years ago,I had 38 external beam radiation treatments and have had no further problem to date- but I’m still getting regular checks,including PSA screenings.

  • Tmack816

    I have a question I can’t find an answer to. How would the blood alcohol content be affected with someone with prostate cancer with a PSA of 22. If two men drank the same and all other things being the same except one has the cancer and the other healthy, would they hacve the same BAC.

About HOUSE Calls
Physicians from the UNC Department of Family Medicine’s YOUR HEALTH™ media bring you weekly information in response to your questions about health and medicine. Send us your questions or comments to YOURHEALTH@unc.edu

The HOUSE Calls staff:

Cristy Page Headshot Dr Cristy Page is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. A former Morehead scholar, Dr. Page completed degrees in Medicine, Public Health and Family Medicine at UNC. Dr. Page practices full scope family medicine including obstetrics, and she is recognized for important innovations in maternal health, preventive medicine and group well-child care.

Adam Goldstein Headshot Dr. Adam Goldstein is a Professor of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. As a leading U.S. expert in primary care, Dr. Goldstein has a 20-year history in clinical practice, teaching, and research. He has published over 150 articles, essays, book chapters, and books.

Adam Zolotor Headshot Dr. Adam Zolotor is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.  Dr. Zolotor Completed his training at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina.  He has been in practice for 10 years and and is a nationaly recognized expert in child abuse and child injury prevention.  He directs the Department of Family Medicine maternal and child health services. He is the author of more than 50 articles and book chapters.

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