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White wine increases chance for melanoma, beer doesn't

Staff Writer |
A new study raises the possibility that people who enjoy a glass of white wine every day may face a slightly elevated risk of melanoma.

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Total alcohol intake was associated with a 14 percent higher risk of melanoma per drink per day, researchers found.

But, when they looked at the type of alcohol consumed, white wine emerged as the potential culprit. Each drink per day of white wine was associated with a 13 percent higher risk of melanoma, the researchers said.

"Per drink" risk was based on 12.8 grams of alcohol - the median amount of alcohol in a beer, a glass of wine or a shot of spirits.

Beer, red wine and liquor did not significantly affect melanoma risk, the study authors added.

The study does not prove that white wine causes this deadly skin cancer. It merely shows an association, though one worth exploring, the researchers said.

"We are just adding one more cancer site that is related to alcohol consumption," said study author Eunyoung Cho. She is an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School, in Providence, R.I.

Curiously, the alcohol-and-melanoma link was stronger for parts of the body receiving less sun exposure. Exposure to the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays is a major risk factor for the disease.

Compared with non-drinkers, people who consumed 20 grams or more of alcohol a day were 73 percent more likely to be diagnosed with melanomas of the torso, the investigators found.

Cho said this finding may add to evidence that melanoma could have different causes depending on where on the body it surfaces.

Also, women's risk per drink per day was higher than men's. Men have larger bodies and may be better able to metabolize alcohol, Cho suggested.

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