Drinking Red Wine Cuts Risk of Colorectal Cancer

The consumption of more than three glasses of red wine a week reduced the risk for significant colorectal neoplasia (SCRN), or colon cancer, according to research presented at the 71st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Las Vegas. Based on the results of this study, researchers suspect the high content of the compound resveratrol in red wine plays a key role. Resveratrol is an anti-fungal chemical that occurs naturally under the skin of red wine grapes.

Joseph C. Anderson, M.D, and his colleagues at Stony Brook University in New York, compared the drinking habits of 360 red and white wine drinkers with similar lifestyles to examine the prevalence of colorectal neoplasia. They found that red wine dramatically reduced the risk of colorectal neoplasia by 68 percent but white wine did not.

The resveratrol content of wine is related to the length of time the grape skins are present during the fermentation process. “The concentration is significantly higher in red wine than in white wine, because the skins are removed earlier during white-wine production, lessening the amount that is extracted,” explained Joseph C. Anderson, M.D. Dr. Anderson says a healthy lifestyle is essential in cutting the risk of colorectal neoplasia, and he does not advocate drinking red wine if you do not drink currently.

Although alcohol consumption increases the risk for colorectal neoplasia, researchers say this study suggests wine may have a protective effect. Further, studies suggest that resveratrol may exert chemopreventive properties on colon cancer cells.

Source: American College of Gastroenterology (ACG)

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Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD