Can A Daily Glass Of Wine Help Prevent Cancer?

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Can A Daily Glass Of Wine Help Prevent Cancer?

Answer by Keck Medicine of USC, 500+ internationally renowned doctors at a leading academic medical center, on Quora:

Red wine has some health benefits, but is beating the deadly disease one of them?

Alcohol has been used for thousands of years to ward off disease — likely because in centuries past, clean water was hard to come by. But in the modern era, questions as to alcohol’s health benefits remain. What type of alcohol, and how much, is good for you?


Wine’s risks and rewards

Research has shown that alcohol in moderate amounts, specifically red wine, may have some benefits to heart health, may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and may improve overall health. Because moderation is key, theAmerican Cancer Society, along with the federal government’s dietary guidelines, recommend no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.

“I think we all underestimate our intake,” said Sharon Orrange, MD, a clinical associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a primary care physician at Keck Medicine of USC. “It’s seven drinks a week for women. Men can have two drinks a night. I tell [my patients] pick two to three nights during the week — say Monday, Tuesday, Thursday — that [you’re] not going to drink at all.”

The issue gets more complicated, though, when talking about cancer. Heavy drinking is no doubt a cause of cancer, particularly of the throat, mouth, liver and colon, because this is where alcohol comes into direct contact in the body. Toxins in alcohol may contribute to cell damage that leads to cancer. Breast cancer risk also goes up with heavy drinking, possibly because alcohol can increase levels of estrogen, which can feed cancer.

But the relationship between cancer and light drinking is less clear, particularly with red wine. The grape skins in red wine contain a polyphenol, or a plant-based compound, called resveratrol, which has been shown in laboratory studies to act as an antioxidant that can fight cancer.

It’s theorized, then, that resveratrol may cancel out any negative effects of light drinking and help prevent cancer. But is this really the case?