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.

 

 

 

 

BACKGROUND: Individual participant data pooled analyses allow access to non-published data and statistical reanalyses based on more homogeneous criteria than meta-analyses based on systematic reviews. We quantified the impact of publication-related biases and heterogeneity in data analysis and presentation in summary estimates of the association between alcohol drinking and gastric cancer. METHODS: We compared estimates obtained from conventional meta-analyses, using only data available in published reports from studies that take part in the Stomach Cancer Pooling (StoP) Project, with individual participant data pooled analyses including the same studies. RESULTS: A total of 22 studies from the StoP Project assessed the relation between alcohol intake and gastric cancer, 19 had specific data for levels of consumption and 18 according to cancer…
Alcohol consumption is inconsistently associated with the risk of gastric cancer morbidity and mortality. The aim of this study was to systematically evaluate the association between alcohol consumption on gastric cancer risk. The PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were searched from inception through April 2017. Prospective cohort studies evaluating the association between alcohol consumption and risk of gastric cancer which report its effect estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were included. The results summary was performed using the random-effect model. Twenty-two cohort studies involving 22,545 cases of gastric cancer and 5,820,431 participants were identified and included in our data analysis. Overall, drinking had little or no effect on gastric cancer as compared with non-drinkers. Furthermore, light and moderate alcohol…
Importance: Inflammation is important in colorectal cancer development. Diet modulates inflammation and may thus be a crucial modifiable factor in colorectal cancer prevention. Objective: To examine whether proinflammatory diets are associated with increased colorectal cancer risk by using an empirical dietary inflammatory pattern (EDIP) score based on a weighted sum of 18 food groups that characterizes dietary inflammatory potential based on circulating levels of inflammation biomarkers. Design, Settings, and Participants: Cohort study of 46804 men (Health Professionals Follow-up Study: 1986-2012) and 74246 women (Nurses' Health Study: 1984-2012) followed for 26 years to examine associations between EDIP scores and colorectal cancer risk using Cox regression. We also examined associations in categories of alcohol intake and body weight. Data analysis began January…
BACKGROUND: Cancer is a major public health problem worldwide, and the number of incident cases increases every year expected to reach 17.1 million a year by 2020. There is evidence that people who adhere to the Mediterranean Diet (MediD) have lower incidence of cancer. However, cancers' location and culture studies seem to affect the MediD impact. We aimed to review these discrepant findings. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A critical review from a focused literature search was conducted. A literature search of controlled trials from: EMBASE (1970-), MEDLINE (1950-) and PsycINFO (1960-) was undertaken. Two authors (DF and YB) independently extracted the data. RESULTS: Out of 785 abstracts identified only 583 publications focused solely on MediD and cancer. Of these, 46 were…
Objective: To investigate the impact of moderate wine consumption on the risk of prostate cancer (PCa). We focused on the differential effect of moderate consumption of red versus white wine. Design: This study was a meta-analysis that includes data from case-control and cohort studies. Materials and methods: A systematic search of Web of Science, Medline/PubMed, and Cochrane library was performed on December 1, 2017. Studies were deemed eligible if they assessed the risk of PCa due to red, white, or any wine using multivariable logistic regression analysis. We performed a formal meta-analysis for the risk of PCa according to moderate wine and wine type consumption (white or red). Heterogeneity between studies was assessed using Cochrane's Q test and I(2) statistics.…
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