DEC 07, 2016 9:55 AM PST

Melanoma Now on the List of Cancers Related to Wine

Holidays festivities and celebrations usually call for a glass of wine (or two). But this holiday season, a study suggests to reduce your melanoma risks by avoiding drinking white wine. 

Although we sometimes hear a glass of wine can have good health effects, alcohol is a known risk factor for cancer. A study conducted earlier this year found that women who drink alcohol, even moderately, are at an increased risk for breast cancer. The spirit has also been linked to liver cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreas, and head and neck cancer.
To study alcohol’s long-term effects on cancer types, researchers from Brown University analyzed data collected from over 210,000 participants who were followed for an average of 18.3 years. The participants answered food-frequency questionnaires that gave researchers insight into their alcohol consumption. Here, the researchers defined a standard drink as 12.8 grams of alcohol.
While other types of cancers have previously been linked with alcohol, researchers found that the risk for melanoma – a dangerous form of skin cancer – was increased by 14 percent with alcohol consumption.
In a follow-up analysis, the team asked what type of alcohol contributed to the increased melanoma risks. Out of the different alcohol types, including beer, wine, and liquor, white wine was associated with a 13 percent increased risk of melanoma.

Interestingly, the link between alcohol and melanoma was tied to body parts that are normally covered by clothing. For example, increased white wine intake upped melanoma of the head, neck and extremities by 2 percent, while risk for melanomas on the trunk of the body was increased by 73 percent. This surprising mystery still has researchers puzzled.
"The clinical and biological significance of these findings remains to be determined, but for motivated individuals with other strong risk factors for melanoma, counseling regarding alcohol use may be an appropriate risk-reduction strategy to reduce risks of melanoma as well as other cancers," said Eunyoung Cho, the study’s lead investigator.

So what’s a wine lover to do with these results, given that other studies that report the heart benefits of a glass of wine here and there? "For drinkers, risks and benefits of alcohol consumption have to be considered individually, including the risk related to skin cancer," Cho said.
Of note, white wine is made from white grapes without the seeds or skins, and ferment with the help of yeast. And while white wines have been linked to positive lung health, it’s red wine that has a stronger connection to heart benefits. Reds are high in the antioxidant resveratrol, a property that appears to raise good cholesterol and lower heart disease. However, perhaps the best advice may be the age-old wisdom that moderation is key.
Additional source: MNT, EurekAlert!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at
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