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.
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.