White Wine May Increase Your Risk of Melanoma


Pairing your dinner with a glass of white wine could increase your risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, a study suggests.

Flickr Image Courtesy: Shunichi kouroki, CC BY-SA 2.0
Flickr Image Courtesy: Shunichi kouroki, CC BY-SA 2.0

The American Association for Cancer Research conducted a study in which over 200,000 Americans participated to find a link between alcohol consumption and the risk of melanoma. Findings were taken over an 18-year period in which the participants regularly submitted questionnaires detailing their food and drink habits.

While overall alcohol consumption has been known to increase the risk of other types of cancer, this study found that a daily glass of white wine can increase your melanoma risk by 13 percent. Other alcoholic drinks — including beer, hard liquor and red wine — did not carry the same increased risk of melanoma.

The study defined a single drink as one that had 12.8 grams of alcohol.

Interestingly, the study found increased risk especially in areas of the body which experienced less sun exposure, such as the trunk and torso.

Related: Too Many Melanoma Survivors Are Still Seeking Sun

An example of melanoma on a patient's skin. Credit: National Cancer Institute
An example of melanoma on a patient’s skin.
Credit: National Cancer Institute

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, often found in places of the body most exposed to sunlight. Prolonged or intense exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds can result in mutations and malignant tumors. The correlation between skin cancer and alcohol has not been explored very thoroughly, but this study provides evidence that a correlation may potentially exist between the two.

On the food and drink questionnaires submitted by participants, all forms of alcohol were reported, but white wine was the only one that was linked to higher melanoma risk. Scientists say that this may be due to higher amounts of carcinogens contained in wine. As for why white wine might carry extra risk and not red, researchers say the antioxidants in red wine could counteract the carcinogenic effects.

Researchers agree that there may not be enough evidence for people to change their drinking habits. The food and drink habits were self-reported by participants, which cannot guarantee accuracy.

In addition, the study was performed only on white Americans, which does not allow the findings to be generalized across all races and ethnicities. Those with a predisposition due to family history or personal experience were also discluded from this study.

The clinical findings of this study have yet to be confirmed, but it is always recommended that alcohol intake be moderated carefully, especially by those with an already increased risk of cancer.

Related: Frequent Tanning Bed Usage Could Be Costly to Your Health