study: red wine cuts risk of prostate cancer

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    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    Study: Red wine cuts risk of prostate cancer

    By JULIE DAVIDOW
    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

    Red, red wine. Apparently, it goes to your prostate as well as your head.

    Drinking four or more glasses of red wine a week chops the risk of prostate cancer in half, according to a new study from researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

    Red wine had the greatest impact on the most aggressive, fast-spreading prostate tumors, leading to a 60 percent reduction in such cases, researchers found.

    Published in the online version of the International Journal of Cancer, the study is the first to find that red wine could help keep prostate cancer at bay, say researchers.

    Researchers talked to 753 men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and 703 healthy men from King County.

    The men in the study, all between the ages of 40 and 64, were interviewed in person about their alcohol consumption from age 15.

    A 1999 Dutch study comparing red and white wine found no significant decline in prostate cancer cases related to red wine, but did note an increased risk with white and fortified wine consumption.

    "Ours is the first large study to really tease out the effects of red versus white wine in relation to prostate cancer," said Janet Stanford, one of the study's investigators and an epidemiologist at the Hutch.

    Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States, with 230,110 cases expected to be diagnosed this year and 29,900 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.



    In Washington state, an estimated 4,850 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2004 and 630 are expected to die from the disease.

    Still, Dr. Tia Higano, a prostate cancer specialist and associate professor at the University of Washington, said she doesn't plan to encourage patients who don't drink alcohol to start imbibing.

    "But if you do consume alcohol, you should at least know that drinking red wine might be more beneficial as opposed to other types of alcohol," Higano said.

    The most likely explanation for red wine's health effects is a chemical called resveratol, which is found in high concentrations in the skins of red grapes.

    Raspberries and peanuts also contain resveratol but not at the same levels as red wine, Stanford said.

    Other studies have linked red wine to a lower risk of heart disease.

    Stanford's team is planning another study looking at the impact of resveratol on prostate cancer in mice. Resveratol has also been shown to reduce rates of lung, skin and colon cancer in mice, Stanford said.

    The Hutch study also found no increased risk of prostate cancer from drinking white wine, beer or hard alcohol.

    Men shouldn't consider the findings a ticket to drink freely, Stanford said.

    "We're talking about very modest levels of consumption," she said.

 
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