Moderate Wine Consumption May Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers

Moderate Wine Consumption May Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers


A recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition has found that moderate wine consumption may actually reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer. The study, which involved a meta-analysis of existing research, aimed to determine the relationship between wine intake and cancer.

Cancer is a major global health concern, and various factors such as smoking, alcohol use, obesity, and tobacco intake contribute to its prevalence. While alcohol consumption, in general, has been associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer, including those affecting the head, neck, gastrointestinal tract, breast, liver, rectum, and colon, the effects of wine consumption have been shown to be different. This has led to a controversial understanding of the relationship between alcohol intake, particularly wine consumption, and cancer risk, highlighting the need for further investigation.

In this meta-analysis, researchers sought to explore the potential increased cancer risk associated with wine consumption.

The team searched several databases, including Cochrane, Scopus, Web of Science, and MEDLINE (PubMed), for relevant records with no limitations on publication dates. They also screened references from previous systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Only longitudinal studies evaluating the impact of wine intake on cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, colon, rectum, skin, pancreas, brain, lungs, and gynecological tissues were included in the analysis.

The team excluded certain types of studies, such as reviews, editorials, ecological studies, case reports, and studies published in languages other than Spanish or English. They also excluded studies that did not separately document wine intake among different types of alcohol. Two reviewers independently performed the selection process, assessed the risk of bias, and extracted relevant data. Discrepancies were resolved through discussion or consultation with a third reviewer. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) was used to evaluate the risk of bias.

To determine the pooled relative risks (RRs), the team used the DerSimonian and Laird methods. They also utilized the I2 and τ2 statistics to assess inconsistency and heterogeneity, respectively. Only studies with a five-year follow-up period were included in the quantitative analysis to ensure data quality.

In addition to the primary analysis, the team conducted sensitivity assessments by excluding individual studies one at a time. They also performed subgroup analyses based on geographical regions. Furthermore, they conducted random-effects type meta-regressions to evaluate the impact of participants’ age, the proportion of females, and follow-up durations on the association between wine intake and cancer risk. Publication bias was assessed using Egger’s regression asymmetries.

The literature search yielded a total of 12,651 studies, of which 8,380 were excluded based on the title and abstract review. After assessing eligibility, 73 studies were included in the systematic review, comprising 31 cohort studies and 42 case-control studies.

The included studies were conducted in various countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Canada, Uruguay, Argentina, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Hawaii, the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, France, Germany, Spain, Norway, and Sweden. The publication period of the included studies ranged from 1986 to 2021, and the total number of individuals included in the studies was 4,346,504, ranging in age from 18 to 103 years.

The NOS scores of the included studies ranged from seven to nine, indicating high-quality research. The pooled relative risks for the association between wine intake and the risk of gynecological, colorectal, renal, breast, and ovarian tumors were 1.0, 0.9, 0.9, 1.0, and 1.0, respectively. Heterogeneity among the included studies was moderate to substantial, ranging from 50% to 75%.

Publication bias was reported for ovarian and renal tumors. However, sensitivity and subgroup analyses produced similar findings, reinforcing the robustness of the primary analysis results. Follow-up durations influenced the pooled relative risks for the association between wine intake and kidney, rectum, and colon tumors. The inverse associations observed between wine intake and certain cancers could be attributed to specific components present in wine, such as phytoestrogens and antioxidants.

The biochemistry behind the potential protective effects of wine consumption on cancer development is complex. It has been established that alcohol consumption is generally associated with gastric cancer, but this association appears to be lessened among individuals who primarily consume wine instead of other alcoholic beverages. Wine consumption can increase stomach acidity, inhibiting the growth of microorganisms such as Helicobacter pylori. Previous studies have also shown that wine has neuroprotective properties when consumed in moderation.

Various components present in wine, such as resveratrol, have been shown to have anti-mutagenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects, which can help prevent the initiation, development, and progression of tumors. Resveratrol, in particular, can suppress cyclooxygenase 1 (COX1), a cellular process linked to tumor formation. Other anticarcinogenic components found in wine include quercetin, tannins, and anthocyanins, which provide protection against UV radiation and inhibit the activity of free radicals, myeloperoxidase (MPO), and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), thereby reducing the growth of skin cancer.

In conclusion, the findings of this study suggest that there is no significant association between wine intake and cancer risk. On the contrary, moderate wine consumption may potentially reduce the risk of developing certain types of tumors, particularly in the brain, lungs, skin, and pancreas. However, it should be noted that wine consumption was not consistently defined across the included studies, with variations in methodologies and documentation of wine consumption volumes. Future research incorporating standardized measurements of alcohol intake, along with consideration of potential confounding factors, such as diet, lifestyle, and socioeconomic status, is necessary to better understand the true impact of wine consumption on cancer risk in diverse populations.



  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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