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White wine increase risk of cancer

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Study: Red Wine Slows Lung Cancer, White Raises Risk
Wed Oct 27, 2004 07:05 PM ET

By Mohammed Abbas
LONDON (Reuters) - Drinking red wine could protect against lung cancer, but white wine may increase the risk, Spanish scientists said Thursday.

They examined the effects of different types of wine on lung cancer, the most common and deadly form of the disease.

"Consumption of red wine ... was associated with a slight but statistically significant reduction in the development of lung cancer," said research team leader Professor Juan Barros-Dios in the study published in scientific journal Thorax.

Red wine contains tannins and resveratrol, substances which he said could explain the drink's anti-cancer properties.

Tannins act as antioxidants, which mop up free radicals -- particles harmful to cells. Resveratrol is known to fight cancer tumor growth.

"In terms of the daily number of glasses, white wine appeared to increase the risk," Barros-Dios said in the journal.

But the scientists emphasized the risk from drinking white wine was very slight and only 39 white wine drinkers were studied.

The study concluded the increased risk from drinking white wine was because of the ethanol it contained.

All wine contains the chemical, which is a gene mutator, but in red wine the anti-lung cancer benefits outweighed possible gene damage from the ethanol, the researchers said.

However, Barros-Dios was careful not to encourage binge drinking to combat lung cancer, which the latest World Health Organization figures show killed 1.2 million people in 2000.

"It would be extremely risky -- and even dangerous -- for recommendations to be drawn up endorsing high consumption of red wine for the prevention of lung cancer," he said.

Research colleague Dr Alberto Ruano-Ravina said the aim of the study was to investigate red wine's anti-cancer components, not determine how much wine would ward off cancer.

"We do not recommend drinking if you want to prevent lung cancer," he told Reuters, adding that the risk of lung cancer to non-smokers is very small, and that smokers should quit.

The effects of wine drinking were studied in 132 people with lung cancer and 187 people in hospital for non-tobacco related minor surgery in the Santiago de Compostela district, in northwestern Spain.

Barros-Dios, Ruano-Ravina and research colleague Adolfo Figueiras are affiliated to the University of Santiago de Compostela. They said they will continue their studies using lab animals.

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