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Red wine protects against lung cancer?

08-Nov-2004

Mounting evidence backs the role red wine may play in promoting heart health but a new study from Spain finds this increasingly popular beverage might offer some protection against lung cancer.

Scientists at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain found that a daily glass of red wine actually may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, while beer and spirits had no impact.

"These results suggest that the consumption of red wine is negatively associated with the development of lung cancer," conclude the researchers.

The findings will contribute to the growing consumer perception that red wine may hold potential health benefits and as such is driving double-digit growth for the beverage, tipped by market analysts Euromonitor to reach global sales of US$82 billion (€63bn) in 2007, a massive 31 per cent rise from 2002.

Wine is known to have a higher polyphenol content than other alcoholic beverages and a range of studies have demonstrated that certain polyphenols, mainly flavonoids, can protect against heart disease and have anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties. Consumption of red wine, which contains the polyphenol resveratrol, has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

For the Spanish study researchers interviewed 132 patients with lung cancer and 187 people who had had minor surgery. The volunteers, most of whom were in their sixties, were asked about their occupation, their eating and drinking habits and whether they smoked.

The main outcome measure was the risk of lung cancer associated with consumption of wine and its individual types.

"Red wine consumption had an OR (odds ratio) of 0.43 (95% CI 0.19 to 0.96), with each daily glass of red wine having an inverse association with the development of lung cancer (OR 0.87 (95% CI 0.77 to 0.99))."

By contrast, the scientists noted "a very slight but significant association" between the risk of lung cancer and white wine consumption (odds ratio (OR) 1.20 for each daily glass).

There was no apparent association between lung cancer and consumption of beer or spirits.

The researchers, who published their findings in the November issue of Thorax, said that further studies are required to test their findings in cancer induced laboratory animals.

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