29 october 2020

Effects of alcohol consumption in general, and wine in particular, on the risk of cancer development: a review

Since 1988, alcohol has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, the highest level of risk, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). In fact, alcohol consumption is the third leading risk factor for disease and mortality in Europe. It accounts for 4.65 % of the global burden of both injury and disease, making it one of the most preventable causes of injury and death. Tissues in closest contact with alcohol when it is ingested, such as those of the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus and larynx, have at greater risk of becoming cancerous than other body tissues.

The consumption of alcohol is also associated with an increased risk of stomach, colon, rectum, liver, female breast and ovarian cancers. Conversely, recent studies suggest that red wine components inhibit colony formation of human breast cancer and esophageal carcinoma cells, suggesting that wine-derived phenolic compounds may be inhibitory, in contrast to the alcohol component of wine.

Because of a lack of systematic studies dealing with the different types of cancer and alcoholic beverages and wine in particular, in this narrative review we summarize the general risk of cancer linked to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, including wine, according to type of cancer, with 140 extracted relevant references from 1966 to 2020. Mostly epidemiological studies concerning large cohorts have been selected.

For the cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract, liver, colorectum, breast cancer, pancreatic, prostate, an excessive consumption and/or misuse of alcoholic beverages is correlated with increased risk. Conversely a probable decreased risk has been found for renal/kidney cancers, as well as for Non-Hodgkin lymphomas, such as thyroid lymphomas, associated with the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. There is no evidence of ovarian, gastric, head and neck, and lung cancer being linked to the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. Cancer is a multifactorial disease, and many factors contribute to effects on health status, usually being both genetic and environmental.

Habits (smoking, dietary/lifestyle pattern/ habits, physical activity), should also be taken into account when defining appropriate consumption frequencies for different types of alcoholic drink (wine, beer, spirits). Further research is needed related to wine consumption in the context of a healthy dietary and lifestyle pattern given health-promoting constituents of wine and its effects on cancer incidence.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Teissedre P.; Rasines-Perea Z.; Ruf J.; Stockley C.; Antoce A.O.; Romano R.; Fradera U.; Kosti R.I.
  • Issue

    OENO one: Vol. 54 No. 4 (2020)
  • Published Date

    29 october 2020