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October 7, 2008

Drinking red wine associated with reduced lung cancer risk in male smokers

Drinking red wine associated with reduced lung cancer risk in male smokers

In the October, 2008 issue of the American Association for Cancer research journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention¸ California Kaiser Permanente researchers report yet another benefit associated with drinking red wine: a lower risk of lung cancer.

Chun Chao, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente’s Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena, California, and colleagues analyzed data from the California Men’s Health Study of 84,170 men aged 45 to 69. Surveys completed between 2000 and 2003 provided information concerning demographics and lifestyle characteristics, including type and frequency of alcoholic beverage consumption. Over the three year period, 210 cases of lung cancer were identified.

Among men who reported ever having smoked, drinking one or more glasses of red wine per day was associated with a 61 percent lower adjusted risk of lung cancer compared to the risk experienced by those who did not consume red wine. For each glass of red wine consumed per month, a 2 percent reduction in lung cancer risk was noted among those who had ever smoked, and for those who reported having been heavy smokers, a 4 percent reduction was observed. No effect for beer, liquor, or white wine was observed.

"An antioxidant component in red wine may be protective of lung cancer, particularly among smokers," Dr Chao stated. “Red wine is known to contain high levels of antioxidants. There is a compound called resveratrol that is very rich in red wine because it is derived from the grape skin. This compound has shown significant health benefits in preclinical studies."

Although white wine also contains beneficial phytochemicals, their level and activity are much lower compared with those found in red wine. The authors observe that resveratrol, found in red wine, red grapes, and other plants, has been shown to alter the activation of carcinogenic substances in human lung cell cultures, induce programmed cell death in human lung cancer cell lines, and slow lung tumor growth in experiments with mice.

“This finding, if confirmed is of interest for lung cancer chemoprevention in current and former smokers,” the authors write. They emphasize that not smoking is still the best way to avoid lung cancer, and that heavy alcohol consumption is not recommended.

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Health Concern Life Extension Highlight

Lung cancer

Novel approaches are urgently needed that reverse, suppress, or prevent lung cancer development (van Zandwijk N 2005). Early detection offers the best chance for long-term survival (Saba NF et al 2005). The conventional choices of treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy and depend on the type and stage of the cancer (European Lung Cancer Working Party 2006). Irrespective of the treatment method used, complementary therapy, such as nutritional supplementation and the use of bioresponse modifiers, is an important addition to traditional treatment that could help control symptoms, enhance quality of life, and improve overall survival (Jatoi A et al 2005b).

The lung cancer death rate is related to the total number of cigarettes smoked, and the risk for a man smoking two packs daily for 20 years is 60- to 70-fold the risk run by a nonsmoker. Among individuals who smoke 15 or more cigarettes per day, reducing smoking by 50 percent significantly reduces the danger of lung cancer (Godtfredsen NS et al 2005). In addition, stopping smoking may prolong survival of cancer patients (Ozlu T et al 2005).

    To reduce risk:
  • Stop smoking. Use nicotine replacement therapy, Zyban®, counseling, and herbal tea made of cloves and milk vetch (Lee HJ et al 2005)
  • Increase intake of citrus fruits and tomatoes, which are high in beta-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, alpha-carotene, and lutein (Mannisto S et al 2004; Yuan JM et al 2001; Knekt P et al 1999; Le ML et al 1993).
  • With the approval of your physician, take aspirin regularly (Moysich KB et al 2002).
  • Take folate and vitamin B12, which improve abnormal bronchial cell growth in smokers (Heimburger DC et al 1988).
  • Consume green tea, whose polyphenols prevent DNA damage in lung cells exposed to oxidants from cigarette smoke.
  • Test your home for radon gas.

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