A recent study suggests that white wine intake may be associated with higher rates of invasive melanoma among Caucasian men and women. White wine, moreover, may carry the most significant association and therefore the greatest increased risk.1

Previous studies demonstrated that alcohol can cause carcinogenesis, as the ethanol in alcohol metabolizes into acetaldehyde, damaging DNA and preventing DNA repair, which in turn may lead to oncogenesis. For this study, investigators analyzed data from 3 large prospective cohort studies, which analyzed data from an aggregate 210,252 participants with a mean follow-up of 18.3 years. There were 1374 cases of invasive melanoma during 3,855,706 person-years of follow-up.

The researchers found that overall alcohol intake was associated with a 14% higher risk of melanoma per drink per day. Each drink per day of white wine was associated with a 13% increased risk of melanoma. Other forms of alcohol (beer, red wine, and liquor) did not, however, carry a significant melanoma risk.

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Study investigator Eunyoung Cho, ScD, an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said established melanoma risk factors include those that cannot be modified, such as family history of melanoma, light hair color, higher number of moles (melanocytic nevi), and susceptibility to sunburn. It is important, however, to find modifiable risk factors of melanoma.

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Alcohol consumption is obviously a modifiable behavior, and it has been associated with many different cancer sites. “Our study may contribute adding melanoma to the list of cancers associated with alcohol consumption, and supports existing cancer prevention recommendations by the American Cancer Society to limit alcohol intake,” Dr Cho told Cancer Therapy Advisor.