Researchers have found that men who
drink an average of four to seven glasses of red wine
per week are only 52% as likely to be diagnosed with
prostate cancer as those who do not drink red wine,
reports the June 2007 issue of Harvard Men’s
Health Watch. In addition, red wine appears particularly protective against advanced or aggressive cancers.
Researchers in Seattle collected information about
many factors that might influence the risk of prostate
cancer in men between ages 40 and 64, including alcohol
consumption. At first the results for alcohol consumption
seemed similar to the findings of many earlier studies:
There was no relationship between overall consumption
and risk. But the scientists went one step further
by evaluating each type of alcoholic beverage independently.
Here the news was surprising—wine drinking was
linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer. And when
white wine was compared with red, red had the most
benefit. Even low amounts seemed to help, and for every
additional glass of red wine per week, the relative
risk declined by 6%.
Why red wine? Doctors don’t know. But much of
the speculation focuses on chemicals—including
various flavonoids and resveratrol—missing from
other alcoholic beverages. These components have antioxidant
properties, and some appear to counterbalance androgens,
the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.
Many doctors are reluctant to recommend drinking alcohol
for health, fearing that their patients might assume
that if a little alcohol is good, a lot might be better.
The Harvard Men’s Health Watch notes
that men who enjoy alcohol and can drink in moderation
and responsibly may benefit from a lower risk of heart
attack, stroke, diabetes, and cardiac death.