SAN FRANCISCO (SW) -- Researchers found that wine drinkers are at
a "significantly reduced risk for four types of cancer," a scientist said in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Separately, scientists from INSERM,
the French National Institute for Health, report that moderate amounts of alcohol appear
to help improve brain function in older women.
In the Cancer Institute study, Marilie Gammon, lead researcher, said the study found
cancer risk unaffected by all alcohol drinking, but there was a 40 percent decrease in
risk to cancers of the stomach and the oesophagus associated with wine drinking.
"If the reduction in risk is real, there may be a protective ingredient in wine,
such as resveratrol, that is not present in beer or liquor," researchers wrote.
The work of the team of researchers represents the largest population based,
case-control study of this kind conducted to date, encompassing all incident cases of
cancer of the oesophagus and stomach identified in three geographic areas.
The French study, Epidemiology of Vascular Aging (EVA), was reported in the latest
issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.
"In conclusion, this analysis did not suggest any negative effect of low to
moderate alcohol intake on cognitive functioning in older adults," the researchers
wrote. "Moreover, we found that alcohol consumption was associated with better
cognitive scores in women."
For both women and men, most of the total alcohol intake came from wine. Older women
who drank the equivalent of two or more glasses of wine daily were 2.5 times more likely
to score in the top 10 percent on neuro-psychological test scores than female
non-drinkers. Other women who drank less than two glasses daily were 1.7 times more likely
to score in the top 10 percent than their teetotalling counterparts.
Researchers said that while moderate consuming women were found to score higher on
these tests measuring memory, learning, and problem-solving skills, cognitive scores for
men had no association with alcohol consumption.
"The most likely interpretation of our findings is that in women-but not in
men-low to moderate alcohol consumption is a marker for general well being or for
behavioural patterns associated with good cognitive functioning," researchers said.
In March of this year, another French study found moderate wine consumption to be
associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia in both women and men,
and other studies have found moderate alcohol consumption to be associated with improved
cognitive function in elderly populations.