Red Wine Consumption May Lower Prostate Cancer Risk

By Will Boggs, MD
NEW YORK OCT 08, 2004 (Reuters Health)

Moderate consumption of red wine might lower the risk of prostate cancer in men who drink, according to a report in the October 15th online edition of International Journal of Cancer.

"The results of this study show that modest red wine consumption (four 4-oz. glasses/week) lowers the risk of prostate cancer by 50%, which is a fairly strong negative association," Dr. Janet L. Stanford from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington told Reuters Health. "However, this is the first study to fully evaluate the risk of prostate cancer in relation to red versus white wine consumption, so further study is needed to confirm these results."

Dr. Stanford and colleagues used data from a large population-based case-control study in King County, Washington, to investigate the relationship between alcohol intake and prostate cancer.

Men with prostate cancer were more likely to be black, to have had serum PSA screening for prostate cancer, and to have a first-degree family relative with prostate cancer, the authors report. Prostate cancer patients were also more likely to have higher daily calorie intake and more lifetime female sexual partners and to be current smokers.

Overall alcohol consumption showed no clear relationship with prostate cancer risk, the results indicate, but beer or liquor consumption appeared to increase the relative risk.

Each drink of wine per week was associated with a 2% decrease in prostate cancer risk, the researchers note, but this finding was of borderline statistical significance.

In contrast, there was a significant 6% reduction in prostate cancer risk for each glass of red wine drunk per week, the investigators report. Controlling for other alcohol consumption strengthened the association of red wine consumption with reduced prostate cancer risk. Consumption of white wine showed a weaker association with decreased prostate cancer risk.

The negative association between red wine consumption and prostate cancer risk was stronger in men with more aggressive disease, the report indicates, but there were no such associations for white wine consumption.

"The message is not to have men who don't consume alcohol begin drinking wine based on this one study," Dr. Stanford said. "However, men who already consume alcohol might consider making some of that a modest amount of red wine."

"If further study confirms our results, it looks like red wine may be beneficial for the heart and the prostate," Dr. Stanford said. "Only further research can address this possibility."

"We also are planning future studies designed to specifically test the hypothesis that red wine is associated with a reduced incidence of prostate cancer," she added.

* International Journal of Cancer 2004