Sept. 23, 2004 -- Forget the apple; drinking a glass of red wine a day may help keep the urologist away. A new study shows men who drink four or more glasses of red wine per week have a nearly 50% lower risk of prostate cancer than non-drinkers.
In addition, researchers found that red wine's protective effects appear to be even stronger against the most dangerous and aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
"Among men who consumed four or more 4-ounce glasses of red wine per week, we saw about a 60 percent lower incidence of the more aggressive types of prostate cancer," says Janet L. Stanford, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in a news release. "The more clinically aggressive prostate cancer is where the strongest reduction in risk was observed."
Researchers say this is only the second study to compare the anticancer effects of red vs. white wine or other types of alcoholic beverages, and the findings suggest that there is something unique about red wine that makes it a potent cancer fighter.
Red Wine Reduces Prostate Cancer Risks
In the study, which appears in the International Journal of Cancer, researchers compared the drinking habits of 753 Seattle-area men who were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer with 703 similar, healthy men.
Researchers say no clear association between overall alcohol use and prostate cancer risk was found. However, when they looked at prostate cancer risk by beverage of choice, they found a significant reduction in risk among wine drinkers, especially red wine drinkers.
After adjusting for other types of alcohol, the study showed that red wine drinkers who had between four and seven 4 ounce glasses of red wine per week had a 48% lower risk of prostate cancer.
Specifically, each glass of red wine per week was associated with a 6% decrease in prostate cancer risk. No significant risk reductions were found for beer, white wine, or liquor.
When researchers looked at drinking habits and the risk of aggressive prostate cancer, they found moderate red wine drinkers who drank up to eight glasses per week had a 61% lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
"From a public-health standpoint, it's difficult to recommend any alcohol consumption given the risks associated with heavy consumption, from increased overall cancer risk to accidental injury and social problems," says Stanford. "But for men who already are consuming alcohol, I think the results of this study suggest that modest consumption of red wine -- four to eight 4-ounce drinks per week -- is the level at which you might receive benefit. Clearly other studies show that more than that may have adverse effects on health."
Researchers say an antioxidant known as resveratrol, which is found in the skins of red grapes but in much lower amounts in white grape skins, may be responsible for red wine's potent anticancer effects.