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Friday, 25 September, 1998, 00:45 GMT 01:45 UK
'Lower cancer risk' for wine drinkers
Drinks
Previous research has pointed to the protective qualities of wine
Wine drinkers might be at a lower risk of contracting cancer than beer or spirit drinkers, Danish scientists claim.

A substance found in grapes, called resveratrol, is thought to inhibit the progression of cancer.

The research team from the Copenhagen Centre for Prospective Population Studies believes this may explain why moderate drinkers of red or white wine have a lower incidence of cancer of the upper digestive tract than those who consume other types of alcoholic drinks.

Drinking and smoking

Beer and spirit drinkers had a "significantly" increased risk of this type of cancer, the team writes in the British Medical Journal.

Grapes
Grapes contain a substance called resveratrol
Alcohol drinkers are more likely to develop this cancer than smokers, with a 12-fold increased risk of the disease among heavy drinkers compared with non-drinkers.

According to the study, which monitored more than 28,000 people, those who drink between seven and 21 units a week double their likelihood of digestive tract cancer compared with teetotallers.

Supporting research

Previously, it had been thought that there was no difference between the type of alcohol consumed and the risk of cancer.

Beer
Drinking beer significantly increases the risk
The study appears to back up recent experiments into resveratrol, one of several anti-carcinogenic compounds in wine, which shows it could help stem the development and progression of tumours in the human body.

The authors conclude: "A moderate intake of wine probably does not increase the risk of upper digestive tract cancer, whereas a moderate intake of beer or spirits increases the risk considerably."

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