BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 October, 2004, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Red wine 'wards off lung cancer'
Red wine
Red wine reduces the risk of lung cancer by 13%, a report says
Drinking red wine may help to ward off lung cancer, a study suggests.

A team from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain found each glass a day reduced the risk of lung cancer by 13% compared to non-drinkers.

While studies have already suggested red wine can help reduce the risk of heart disease, it was not thought to offer protection against lung cancer.

But Cancer Research UK cast doubt on the findings, warning excess drinking increases the risk of other cancers.

Professor Tim Key, of the charity's epidemiology unit at Oxford University, said there was "no solid evidence to support the suggestion that red wine might help to prevent cancer".

'Increased risk'

"There is, however, strong evidence that regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx, pharynx, and oesophagus.

"Furthermore, even moderate amounts of alcohol cause a small increase in the risk for breast cancer."

Researchers surveyed 132 people with lung cancer and 187 hospital patients without.

The group, mostly men in their 60s, were asked about their diet, smoking habits, occupation and the type and quantity of alcohol they drank each day, including whether they drank red, white or rose wine.

Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer so the best way to reduce your risk of developing the disease is to throw away the cigarettes
Prof Andrew Peacock, of the British Thoracic Society

Both groups drank similar amounts of wine - about three-and-a-half glasses a day - but just over a third of lung cancer patients drank red wine compared to over half of the others.

Neither beer, spirits, or rose wine seemed to affect the development of cancer, the team concluded.

But the report, published in the Thorax journal, suggested there was a slight chance white wine may increase the risk of lung cancer - although the finding was not considered statistically significant because of the small number of white wine drinkers.

The results held true even after taking account of the amount of tobacco smoked, job type and total quantity of alcohol consumed.

Lung cancer kills 33,000 people each year in the UK - the largest number among cancers.

The report said the beneficial affect of red wine may be down to tannins, an antioxidant which works by protecting cells, and resveratrol, which has been shown to stifle tumour development and growth.


Report co-author Dr Alberto Ruano-Ravina, of the department of preventive medicine and public health at the university, said previous studies on wine and lung cancer had not differentiated between white and red.

But he said he would not recommend people drink more red wine.

"It would be extremely risky - and even dangerous - for recommendations to be drawn up endorsing a high consumption of red wine for the prevention of lung cancer in light of the well-known association between alcohol consumption and increased mortality."

Instead, he said the study should be used to fully identify the components of red wine which reduced risk.

Professor Andrew Peacock, of the British Thoracic Society, acknowledged the benefits of red wine but insisted the best way to ward off lung cancer was not to smoke.

"Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer so the best way to reduce your risk of developing the disease is to throw away the cigarettes."

A glass of red wine in a pill
15 Jan 04 |  Health
Why red wine is healthier
19 Dec 01 |  Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific