Latest scientific news 03 July 2020

Wine consumption and oral cavity cancer: Friend or Foe?

This review gives a critical compilation of both the beneficial and the detrimental effects of wine consumption on oral cavity cancer.

The health benefits of a moderate consumption of wine have been extensively studied during the last few decades. Some studies have shown a protective relationship between moderate drinking and several diseases including oral cavity cancer (OCC). However, due to the various adverse effects related to the ethanol content, the recommendation to drink wine moderately has been controversial.

  • The polyphenolic components of wine contribute to its beneficial effects with different biological pathways such as its antioxidant, blood lipid-regulating and anti-inflammatory effects. The phenolic compounds of wine with their chemo-preventive effects against oral cancer development were mainly studied with in-vitro and in-vivo experiments. Wine contains a number of phenolic compounds such as catechin, quercetin and resveratrol as well as anthocyanins that have been the focus of these studies.
  • On the other hand, in the oral cavity, ethanol is metabolized/oxidized to form acetaldehyde, a metabolite with mutagenic and cancerogenic properties. Acetaldehyde resulting from wine intake can damage the oral mucosa, which promotes the stimulation of cell regeneration and alterations in the DNA, which can develop into pre-malignant or a potentially malignant oral epithelial cell.

The authors review the various research and state that even though all these studies have yielded important data for understanding the mechanisms of action of both ethanol and the phenolic compounds on tumour development in the oral cavity, much remains to be studied. More randomized, placebo-controlled human studies, as well as experimental animal models, are required to better understand the effects of wine on oral cells, particularly when consumed regularly and in moderate doses. The specificity related to risk of wine intake needs to be assessed while considering the protective effects of its different compounds at the same time.

Silva P et al, 2020, Wine consumption and oral cavity cancer: Friend or foe, two faces of Janus, Molecules; 25(11): E2569,

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.