With the weather heating up, we all know that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a primary risk factor for melanoma. The same is said for tanning beds and lamps. Other risk factors of getting melanoma include a family history of the disease, having fair skin, freckles, light hair, lots of moles, and having a weakened immune system. But now, a professor and his team suggest alcohol – particularly white wine – should be added to the list.
Eunyoung Cho, an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School in Providence, RI, and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
For their study, Cho and colleagues analysed the data of three large studies – including a total of 210,252 adults – to see if there might be a link between alcohol intake and risk of melanoma, reports Medical News Today.
As part of the studies, participants were required to complete food frequency questionnaires, which detailed their alcohol intake, including what alcoholic beverages they consumed and how much.
One standard drink was defined as 12.8 grams of alcohol, and study participants were followed-up for a mean of 18.3 years.
When looking at overall alcohol intake, the team found that each alcoholic beverage consumed daily was associated with a 14 percent greater risk of melanoma. Alcohol is a known risk factor for a number of cancers, including head and neck cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and esophageal cancer.
However, when the researchers broke down the results by alcohol type, they found that it was only white wine that could be independently associated with melanoma; each daily glass of white wine was linked to a 13 percent greater risk of melanoma.
According to the team, beer, red wine, and liquor had no significant impact on melanoma risk.
They also found that melanomas on parts of the body that were less likely to be exposed to UV rays were more likely to be linked to alcohol intake. For example, adults who consumed at least 20 grams of alcohol daily were at 73 percent greater risk of melanomas of the trunk, but they were only 2 percent more likely to develop melanomas of the head, neck, or extremities. Further research is warranted to identify the underlying mechanisms.
Cho says the team was surprised that only white wine could be independently associated with greater melanoma risk, and further research is required to pinpoint precisely why this might be.