The Study conducted at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, RI, USA was published recently in the Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention journal published by the American Association for Cancer Research and was conducted by Eunyoung Cho, an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology, and her colleagues.
The study examined drinking habits of more than 210,000 white men and women over 18 years of age and found that those who drank one glass of white wine daily increased their risk of melanoma by 13 percent. Researchers believe that this is because white wine contains acetaldehyde, a carcinogenic compound. Red wines contain antioxidants that can mitigate the cancer-causing chemicals.
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that begins in the cells in the top layer of skin. It is significantly less common than other skin cancers but much more deadly. According to the American Cancer Society, over 10,000 people die from melanoma in the US alone. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps is a primary risk factor for melanoma. Other risk factors include a family history of the disease, having fair skin, freckles, light hair, lots of moles, and a weakened immune system.
Alcohol is a known risk factor for a number of cancers, including head and neck cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and oesophageal cancer. Now, Cho and team have suggested that white wine should also be added to the list.
For their study based on the studies already carried out, researchers analyzed the data of three large studies conducted earlier on a total of around 210,000 adults, to see if there was a link between alcohol intake and the risk of melanoma. Participants were required to complete questionnaires, which included their alcohol intake, including which alcoholic beverages they imbibed and the quantity. One standard drink was defined as 12.8 grams of alcohol. Participants were followed-up for 18 years.
The team found that each alcoholic beverage consumed daily was associated with a 13 percent greater risk of melanoma. However, when broken down, the results indicated that it was only white wine that could be independently associated with melanoma while red wine, liquor or beer had no significant effect.
Another finding of interest was that melanomas on parts of the body that were less likely to be exposed to UV rays, were more likely to be linked to alcohol intake. For example, adults who consumed at least 20 grams of alcohol daily were at 73 percent greater risk of melanomas of the stomach or back but only 2 percent more likely to develop melanoma of the head, neck or extremities.
Cho says the team was surprised that only white wine could be independently associated with greater melanoma risk, and further research was required to identify the underlying mechanisms. However, she points to previous studies that have shown some wines have higher pre-existing levels of a chemical called acetaldehyde, known to damage DNA. She says red wine contains a number of antioxidants that might counteract the harmful effects of acetaldehyde.
The researchers say their findings indicate melanoma should be included in the list of cancers related to alcohol consumption. Individuals who already have a greater risk of melanoma should be particularly cautious, the researchers claim.
Incidentally, the guidelines from the American Cancer Society recommend limiting alcohol intake to a maximum of two drinks daily for men and one for women- not specifying which wine to drink.
Not all medical opinions concur. According to Dr. Hooman Khorasani, of Mount Sinai Health System, the increased risk is too small for people to give up their ‘Sauvignon Blanc’." I would not necessarily stop drinking completely. I don’t think the data are strong enough to support that,” Khorasani said.
The participants came from three studies- two studies of nurses and one of male health professionals. About three-quarters of the participants were female, and the vast majority were white. This might imply that the findings might not be applicable to non-whites.
Although it may be best to consult your doctor if he is emancipated, delWine continues to propagate its decade-old recommendations-daily two glasses (125 mL), preferably red wine and with food for men and one glass for women, to get the positive benefits of wine and not worry about the possible negative effects which have not even been concretely proven yet- editor