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Can Red Wine Prevent Lung Cancers? An Editorial

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Lung Cancer  related image Photo: Getty Images

For the past several years, there has been a lot of news about red wine and how it is beneficial for the heart. And just as with green tea, many other health benefits are now being ascribed to red wine.

Researchers now say that red wine consumption may reduce risk of lung cancer. Several studies in the past have shown an association between alcohol consumption and risk of lung cancer, but the majority of these studies were not controlled and neither did they differentiate between red or white wine.

Researchers from the University of Santiaga de Compostela in Spain have more encouraging news. The researchers interviewed lung cancer subjects about their lifestyles and paid particular attention to alcohol consumption and tobacco use. These subjects were also asked about their occupation and the amount of wine consumed on a daily basis.

After some fancy statistics, they noticed that there was a slight association between consuming white wine and lung cancer risk. On the other hand, people who drank red wine had a protective effect.

The relationship to red wine was also dose-dependent. The researchers speculate that the red wine may be protective because of the antioxidant properties. In addition, resveratrol, a substance in red wine has also been shown to inhibit cancer in laboratory animals. The cancer induction by white wine may be due to ethanol.

So should consumers start drinking red wine to prevent lung cancer?

The researchers say for now, they have no recommendations because excess consumption of red wine can lead to other problems including liver damage.

While this study is some what interesting, we still are a long way off from knowing a lot about lung cancer. These cancers are complex and have many risk factors. Simply making an association between a dietary component and a cancer is too naïve.

In my opinion while we are waiting for more studies on red wine, the one thing consumers can do to decrease the risk of lung cancer is to stop smoking.


1. Ruano-Ravina A, et al. Type of wine and risk of lung cancer: a case-control study in Spain. Thorax. 2004; 59:981-985.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15516476

2. Chao et al Alcoholic beverage intake and risk of lung cancer: the California Men's Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.2008 Oct;17(10):2692-9.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18843011

Reviewed October 6, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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