Cancer

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.


Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start. There is evidence that excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages or binge drinking is associated with increased morbidity and mortality from
several forms of cancer.  Low amounts of wine on the other hand, are not associated with the risk of any cancer site with the possible exception of breast cancer for women and cancers of upper gastrointestinal tract (GIT) such as the mouth and throat as well as the liver.  An increased risk for the GIT cancers is observed with all alcoholic beverages, which is a linear relationship (the greater the amount, the higher the risk), and especially in combination with smoking.

 

With regards to breast cancer and alcoholic beverages, the research results vary widely since not only the amount of alcohol but also other co-factors as well as drinking pattern play an important role and have to be taken into consideration. 

 

The majority of epidemiological studies, however, show a linear increase in the relative risk of breast cancer with an increasing dose of alcohol but the magnitude of the effect is small. An increased breast cancer risk is observed in women with additional co-factors such as genetic disposition, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), low folate intake, overweight and smoking.

 

A meta-analysis for example, examined the influence of hormones on breast cancer risk and found that alcoholic beverages (> 20g/d) might increase the breast cancer risk only among women who were concurrently using menopausal hormone therapy (HT) and /or having estrogen receptors positive tumors. These findings indicate that a hormone-related mechanism may mediate the relation between alcohol drinking and an increased breast cancer risk. Among women who had ceased using HT, the risk associated with 2 or more drinks per day was not apparent.

Another factor to be considered is folate intake. Several studies have shown an inverse relation between folate intake and cancer. Accordingly, some research results found a significant interaction between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and folate intake where alcohol seems to increase the risk significantly only for those individuals with low folate intake.


All the studies show that the knowledge about the causes of breast cancer is still very incomplete and as scientists from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the USA, recently pointed out, some other (possible confounding) factors have not been considered in the research relating the consumption of alcoholic beverages to breast cancer:

  1. In the epidemiological data provided, the intake of alcoholic beverages is usually under-reported by subjects (which could exaggerate the harm associated with light drinking).
  2. In most studies, the pattern of drinking (regularly and moderately vs. binge drinking with a similar total weekly alcohol consumption) as well as beverage type have generally not been taken into account. However, this aspect of drinking pattern is important given that binge drinking is associated with much higher blood alcohol concentrations and acetaldehyde accumulation (a known carcinogen) and production of free radicals (reactive oxygen species). Considering that the blood alcohol level may be the most important mechanism for effects on cancer risk, the pattern by which a woman consumes a given amount of alcohol is particularly relevant in interpreting associations.
  3. In addition, epidemiological studies usually provide data only for a short period of time, while the development of cancer may relate to exposures over many decades.


The authors concluded that based on scientific evidence, in post menopausal women, the increase in the risk of breast cancer, if there is any at all, is small..

 

The relationship between wine consumption and cancer is even more complex. It is not yet completely proven that wine drinkers have a lower risk for cancer than drinkers of other alcoholic beverages. However, epidemiological studies indicate a lower cancer risk for wine drinkers for most cancer sites compared to drinkers of other alcoholic beverages. Moderate wine intake may actually reduce the risk of oesophagus, thyroid, lung, kidney and colorectal cancers as well as Non-Hodgkin’s Lyphoma. To what extent differences in drinking pattern or certain beverage-specific ingredients are responsible still needs to be determined. Concerning breast cancer, there may also be a protective role for wine.

What might be a possible mechanism for the protective effect of wine? Damage to the DNA of cells by chemicals in the environment and food as well as by the physical environment can lead to cancer. Various experimental studies suggest that the phenolic compounds in wine may protect the DNA of cells of body tissues from damage or may stop the growth of cells with damaged DNA. Complete sequencing of the grapevine genome has revealed genes that are responsible for the synthesis of health-promoting compounds (resveratrol and other polyphenols). 
Another potential explanation for the observation that in some studies  red wine does not appear to increase breast cancer risk, may be the fact that red wine is a nutritional aromatase inhibitor (AI).  Aromatase inhibitors (AI) prevent the conversion of androgens to estrogens, thus a hormone-related mechanism might be involved. 

 

In summary, the cancer risk should not be evaluated in isolation, one particular food factor (like wine consumption) should not be analysed out of context with its cultural and culinary habits. The effect of wine on cancer risk also depends on whether it is consumed with or without a meal and the  nature of other foods consumed. There needs to be a distinction between different types of cancer and the influence of lifestyle (according to the World Cancer Research Fund, more than 1/3 of the cancers could be prevented by a healthy diet, regular physical activity and no weight gain) and genetic factors needs to be assessed.  

 

In future studies, the focus should be more on the pattern of drinking, not just the average weekly amount of alcohol, and thus, have a better understanding of how moderate drinking impacts cancer risk. This will allow consumers to make better informed decisions about the risks and benefits of moderate wine consumption in the context of their overall health and at different stages of their life.

 

The above summary provide an overview of the topic, for more details and specific questions, please refer to the articles in the database.

 

 

 

 

Red wine contains polyphenol antioxidants that inhibit prostate cancer development in animal studies. We investigated the effect of red wine intake on the risk of prostate cancer using data prospectively collected in the California Men's Health Study (CMHS). CMHS is a multiethnic cohort of 84,170 men aged 45-69 years who were members of the Kaiser Permanente Southern and Northern California Health Plans. Information on demographic and lifestyle factors was collected using mailed questionnaires between 2002 and 2003. We used Cox models to estimate the effect of red wine on prostate cancer risk, adjusting for potential confounders. A total of 1,340 incident prostate cancer cases identified from Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result-affiliated cancer registries were included in the analyses. We did…
Background:Many epidemiological studies have investigated the association between folate intake, circulating folate level and risk of breast cancer; however, the findings were inconsistent between the studies. Methods: We searched the PubMed and MEDLINE databases updated to January, 2014 and performed the systematic review and meta-analysis of the published epidemiological studies to assess the associations between folate intake level, circulating folate level and the overall risk of breast cancer. Results:In all, 16 eligible prospective studies with a total of 744 068 participants and 26 205 breast cancer patients and 26 case-control studies with a total of 16 826 cases and 21 820 controls that have evaluated the association between folate intake and breast cancer risk were identified. Pooled analysis of the…
CONTEXT: Multiple studies have linked alcohol consumption to breast cancer risk, but the risk of lower levels of consumption has not been well quantified. In addition, the role of drinking patterns (ie, frequency of drinking and "binge" drinking) and consumption at different times of adult life are not well understood. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association of breast cancer with alcohol consumption during adult life, including quantity, frequency, and age at consumption. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Prospective observational study of 105,986 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study followed up from 1980 until 2008 with an early adult alcohol assessment and 8 updated alcohol assessments. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Relative risks of developing invasive breast cancer. RESULTS: During 2.4 million person-years of…
BACKGROUND: Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer may be more susceptible to adverse effects of alcohol consumption. OBJECTIVE: We investigated whether the association between alcohol consumption and colon cancer risk differed by family history of colorectal cancer. DESIGN: We conducted prospective studies in women and men in the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, respectively. Alcohol consumption was first assessed in 1980 in women and in 1986 in men. RESULTS: During a follow-up of 26 y among 87,861 women and 20 y among 47,290 men, we documented 1801 cases of colon cancer (1094 women and 707 men). Higher alcohol consumption was associated with an elevated risk of colon cancer, although the association was significant only for…
Epidemiologic studies addressing the association of alcohol consumption with breast cancer consistently suggest a modest association and a dose-response relationship. The epidemiologic evidence does not point to a single mechanism to explain the association, and several mechanisms have been proposed. Alcohol consumption is shown to increase levels of endogenous estrogens, known risk factors for breast cancer. This hypothesis is further supported by data showing that the alcohol-breast cancer association is limited to women with estrogen-receptor positive tumors. Products of alcohol metabolism are known to be toxic and are hypothesized to cause DNA modifications that lead to cancer. Recent research has focused on genes that influence the rate of alcohol metabolism, with genes that raise blood concentrations of acetaldehyde hypothesized to…
Page 64 of 73

Disclaimer

The authors have taken reasonable care in ensuring the accuracy of the information herein at the time of publication and are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Read more on our disclaimer and Privacy Policy.