Consuming a moderate amount of wine on a regular basis seems to reduce the chance of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, researchers report.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Nathaniel C. Briggs of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee states that ‘Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the fifth most common cause of cancer in the US’. It refers to several types of cancer that start in the lymphatic system but often spread throughout the body.
‘Although a weakened immune system and exposure to certain chemicals on the job are linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, overall risk factors for the disease are obscure’, said Briggs.
‘Because so few risk factors have been identified, efforts to prevent non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma need to take protective factors into consideration’, added Briggs.
In a new study, Briggs and his team of researchers and colleagues looked at 960 men between the ages of 32 and 60 who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma between 1984 and 1988. They compared the men’s lifestyle habits with 1,717 men in a similar age bracket who were cancer-free.
They found that men who regularly drank an average of one or more glasses of wine per day from the time they were teenagers had more than a threefold decrease in the risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma compared with nondrinkers. They also looked at men who started drinking wine at a later age which showed a 30% lower protective effect against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than those drinking from a young age.
Although it seems that this research encourages consumption of alcohol, Briggs states that, ‘in no way do we endorse underage drinking, in fact the absence of any protective effect for consumption of beer or spirits suggests that alcohol itself is not the protective factor’.
Instead, Briggs noted that a chemical called resveratrol, which is a phytoestrogen produced by grapes, and a natural ingredient in wine, has been shown to inhibit the initiation, as well as promotion and progression of cancer.
Results of this study could lead to the development of non-toxic non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma prevention strategies, such as resveratrol-enriched table grapes or grape jelly, therefore making this available to a more people on a wider scale.
Highest levels of resveratrol appear in red wine however the researchers did not determine if the men drank red or white wine, or a combination of both.
Briggs also pointed out that ‘the findings can’t be extrapolated to consumption of more than one glass of wine per day, because there were too few heavier wine drinkers to investigate risk at higher levels’. And, Briggs noted that because the study population was restricted to men, the findings may not be generalisable to women.
This study has been published in the September issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Source: Reuters News cited on ACSO website.