Drinking wine, but not beer or liquor, may improve survival in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer involving the lymph nodes, according to research reported at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Denver this week.
"In line with the previous cell, animal and human studies...our study also supports the benefit of moderate drinking of wine on cancer patients," lead investigator Xuesong Han, a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Public Health, told Reuters Health.
The study team analysed whether alcohol use prior to diagnosis had an impact on prognosis and survival in 546 women with NHL who were followed for 8 to 12 years.
Survival up by 10%
At 5 years, 76% of wine drinkers were still alive compared with 68 percent of non-wine drinkers. Similarly, 70% of wine drinkers were alive with no evidence of NHL compared with 65 percent of non-drinkers.
The researchers also found that NHL patients who had been drinking wine for more than 25 years prior to their diagnosis had a 33% reduced risk of death and a 26% reduced risk of NHL returning, a second cancer, or of dying, when compared to non-wine drinkers.
Beer and liquor consumption, by contrast, did not improve survival or other outcomes.
"It is clear that lifestyle factors like alcohol can affect outcome," Han said in a statement.
"Animal and cell studies showed that the antioxidants in grapes helped inhibit the development of tumours, and several epidemiological studies showed alcohol drinking might be associated with a reduced risk of NHL, so I wasn't so surprised by my findings," she added in comments to Reuters Health.
"However," the researchers caution, "I wouldn't rush to make recommendations to drink more at this moment, because our study needs replication from other data, and excessive drinking could put one (at risk for) so many other problems." – (Megan Rauscher/Reuters Health, April 2009)
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