Cancer experts say drinking red wine may decrease the risk of lung cancer in men who smoke, because of its antioxidant properties.
Dr. Chun Chao, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena, California, says this may be more so amongst smokers - but he is talking about moderate levels of red wine.
Dr, Chao analyzed data collected through the California Men's Health Study, which linked clinical data from California's health system with self-reported data from 84,170 men aged 45 to 69 years.
In this way the researchers were able to obtain demographics and lifestyle data from surveys computed between 2000 and 2003, and in so-doing identified 210 cases of lung cancer.
The researchers measured the effect of beer, red wine, white wine and liquor consumption on the risk of lung cancer, after adjustments were made for age, race/ethnicity, education, income, body mass index, history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or emphysema, and smoking history and the link was not seen with the consumption of white wine, beer, or liquor.
Among the study participants, there was on average a 2% lower lung cancer risk associated with each glass of red wine consumed per month and the most substantial risk reduction was amongst smokers who drank one to two glasses of red wine per day.
The researchers say in these men there was a 60% reduction in lung cancer risk.
The researchers warn men that the best way to reduce lung cancer risk is to stop smoking and say even men who drank one to two glasses of red wine per day still face a higher lung cancer risk than non-smokers.
Red wine is known to contain high levels of antioxidants derived from the compound resveratrol in the grape skin, which has shown significant health benefits in preclinical studies.
Dr. Chao says their findings should not be construed to recommend heavy alcohol consumption.
The report is published in the October issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.