Alcohol Consumption, Particularly White Wine, Associated With Increased Risk of Melanoma

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Researchers have found a link between white wine consumption and skin lesion development.
Researchers have found a link between white wine consumption and skin lesion development.

A higher risk of invasive melanoma is associated with consumption of alcohol among white men and women; the association is with white wine, in particular, and lesions are more likely to develop in areas of the body that get less sun exposure, a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention has shown.1,2

Alcohol consumption is associated with greater incidence of several cancers including in the aerodigestive tract, liver, pancreas, colon, rectum, and breast. In this study, researchers sought to determine whether alcohol increases the risk of melanoma.

Data used in this study were from a total of 210,252 participants involved with 3 large, prospective cohort studies who were followed for a mean of 18.3 years. Alcohol consumption was determined via review of food-frequency questionnaires. A standard drink was defined as 12.8 g of alcohol.

Results showed an association between overall alcohol consumption and melanoma, with a 14% increase in risk for each alcoholic drink consumed per day. White wine was associated with a 13% increase in risk for each drink consumed per day. No significant increase in risk was associated with drinking red wine, beer, or liquor. Furthermore, people who drink 20 g or more of alcohol were 2% more likely to develop melanoma of the head, neck, or extremities, but 73% more likely to develop melanoma of the trunk.

Carcinogenesis of alcoholic drinks may be attributed to the ethanol in alcohol metabolizing into acetaldehyde, which damages and prevents repair of DNA. However, researchers cannot explain why white wine is associated with an increased risk but red wine, beer or liquor have no effect on risk of melanoma. Research has shown that some wines have higher pre-existing levels of acetaldehyde than beer or liquor.  Although pre-existing acetaldehyde levels are similar in red and white wines, antioxidants in red wine may offset the risk of melanoma, explained the researchers.

The researchers conclude that melanoma is associated with alcohol consumption; however, they caution that their study did not include nonwhites so these findings cannot be generalized to other racial or ethnic groups. In addition, the study did not account for risk factors such as sun-protection behaviors.

A higher risk of invasive melanoma is associated with consumption of alcohol among white men and women; the association is with white wine, in particular, and lesions are more likely to develop in areas of the body that get less sun exposure, a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention has shown.1,2

Alcohol consumption is associated with greater incidence of several cancers including in the aerodigestive tract, liver, pancreas, colon, rectum, and breast. In this study, researchers sought to determine whether alcohol increases the risk of melanoma.

Data used in this study were from a total of 210,252 participants involved with 3 large, prospective cohort studies who were followed for a mean of 18.3 years. Alcohol consumption was determined via review of food-frequency questionnaires. A standard drink was defined as 12.8 g of alcohol.

Results showed an association between overall alcohol consumption and melanoma, with a 14% increase in risk for each alcoholic drink consumed per day. White wine was associated with a 13% increase in risk for each drink consumed per day. No significant increase in risk was associated with drinking red wine, beer, or liquor. Furthermore, people who drink 20 g or more of alcohol were 2% more likely to develop melanoma of the head, neck, or extremities, but 73% more likely to develop melanoma of the trunk.

Carcinogenesis of alcoholic drinks may be attributed to the ethanol in alcohol metabolizing into acetaldehyde, which damages and prevents repair of DNA. However, researchers cannot explain why white wine is associated with an increased risk but red wine, beer or liquor have no effect on risk of melanoma. Research has shown that some wines have higher pre-existing levels of acetaldehyde than beer or liquor.  Although pre-existing acetaldehyde levels are similar in red and white wines, antioxidants in red wine may offset the risk of melanoma, explained the researchers.

The researchers conclude that melanoma is associated with alcohol consumption; however, they caution that their study did not include nonwhites so these findings cannot be generalized to other racial or ethnic groups. In addition, the study did not account for risk factors such as sun-protection behaviors.

Reference

1. American Association for Cancer Research. Alcohol intake associated with increased risk of melanoma [news release]. EurekAlert! web site. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/aafc-aia112916.php. Accessed December 7, 2016.

2. Rivera A, Nan H, Li T, Qureshi A, Cho E. Alcohol intake and risk of incident melanoma: a pooled analysis of three prospective studies in the United States. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers Prevention. 2016 Dec. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0303. [epub ahead of print]

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