Injecting alcohol into the prostate could shrink it

Hope for millions of men with enlarged prostates as scientists discover the gland can be shrunk with direct injections of alcohol

  • Injecting ethanol directly into the prostate could shrink it by more than a third
  • And it reduces how often men need to get up in the night to urinate
  • One expert said the pioneering treatment is ‘excellent news’
  • Researchers in Venezuela have trialled the therapy on 60 middle-aged men  
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Injecting alcohol directly into the prostate gland could shrink it and avoid the need for men to get up in the night to urinate, a study has revealed.

Ethanol jabs through the rectum shrink the prostate by more than a third and relieve pressure on the bladder and penis.

Doctors said the development is ‘excellent news’ and believe it could be as effective as treatments already used by the NHS.

Millions of men in the UK – around half of over-50s – have enlarged prostates and have trouble urinating as a result.

Researchers from University Hospital Caracas in Venezuela found injecting pure alcohol (ethanol) into a man’s prostate could shrink it by 35 per cent and reduce urination

Researchers from University Hospital Caracas in Venezuela found the injection – for which they used a 25cm needle – could shrink swollen prostates as well as drugs.

And it reduced their needs for night-time toilet visits by almost half, The Sun reported.

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If someone’s prostate is swollen it can put pressure on the bladder, increasing the need to urinate, while also blocking the urethra so making it more difficult.

The condition is called benign prostate enlargement and affects the semen-producing gland which is located inside the pelvis between the penis and bladder. 

‘The reduction in the size of the prostate with ethanol was significant,’ said lead researcher and urology specialist Alessandri Rafael Espinoza.


Benign prostate enlargement (BPE) is a common condition in which the prostate becomes swollen.

BPE affects approximately 50 per cent of over-50s and 90 per cent of over-80s. 

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland within the pelvis which is involved in producing semen – only men have one.

It becomes gradually larger as men get older but, if it gets too big, it can cause trouble with urinating because it is situated between the penis and bladder.

When enlarged the prostate can press on the bladder, making a man need to urinate more often, while at the same time pressing on the urethra, meaning it becomes more difficult to urinate.

Men can find they need to get up often in the night to urinate.

Treating the condition can involve cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks, exercising regularly and drinking less in the evening.

There are also medications which can help to shrink the prostate.

Source: NHS Choices    

‘Ethanol injection can be an effective, non-surgical alternative in treatment of patients with [an enlarged prostate].’

The scientists trialled the therapy on 60 middle-aged men by injecting nine shots of pure alcohol – ethanol – directly into their prostates through the rectum.

Their prostates were around 35 per cent smaller on average.

Doctors suggest this reduction is caused by the alcohol killing off unwanted cells, shrinking any swelling. 

And the men suffered from 48 per cent fewer symptoms, which can include difficulty urinating and needing the toilet frequently.

There were no severe side-effects of the jab, whereas some currently-used drugs can reduce men’s sex drives.

Around half of over-50s – two million men in the UK – have enlarged prostates and some 45,000 have surgery every year to treat the condition.

At least 14million men in the US are thought to have enlarged prostates. 

It is not thought to increase the risk of prostate cancer but can be painful and, in some cases, lead to impotence or reduced fertility.

‘It looks to be a very promising treatment,’ Professor Raj Persard, of Bristol Urology Associates, told The Sun. He was not involved with the research.

‘Because of difficulties and complications with standard prostate surgery, we have looked at a wide range of treatments … But none of these is a perfect solution and the search goes on.

‘Alcohol injection seems to provide good results in “unblocking” the bladder and improving quality of life, and these new results are comparable if not better than other treatments which is excellent news.’

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