Red Wine May Cut Risk of Lung Cancer

Moderate Drinking of Red Wine Linked to Lower Lung Cancer Risk Among Smokers

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 07, 2008

Oct. 7, 2008 -- Red wine may reduce the risk of lung cancer in men, especially smokers, a new study shows.

The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, used data from The California Men's Health Study, which includes 84,170 men between 45 and 69 who are members of the Kaiser Permanente California health plan. Demographics and lifestyle characteristics were obtained through detailed surveys mailed to participants between 2000 and 2003. The participants were followed through the end of 2006, during which there were 210 cases of lung cancer.

Moderate red wine consumption was associated with a reduced incidence of lung cancer, especially among smokers. Smokers who drank at least one glass of red wine a day had 60% lower chance of getting lung cancer than nondrinking smokers.

Still, researchers said the best way to reduce lung cancer risk is to stop smoking. The smokers who drank red wine still faced a greater risk than nonsmokers. The study also notes that results should not be extrapolated for heavy alcohol consumption.

Other kinds of alcohol -- white wine, beer, and liquor -- did not demonstrate a reduced risk of lung cancer among participants.

In the analysis, researchers made adjustments for factors such as age, race/ethnicity, education, income, body mass index, history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema, and smoking history.

"Red wine is known to contain high levels of antioxidants. There is a compound called resveratrol that is very rich in red wine because it is derived from the grape skin. This compound has shown significant health benefits in preclinical studies," Chun Chao, PhD, study author and a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Department of Research and Evaluation, says in a news release.

Past research has linked red wine's resveratrol to a reduced risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and brain diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.