Pre-diagnostic wine consumption may reduce the risk of death and relapse among non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients, according to an epidemiology study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting 2009.
Xuesong Han, the first author of the abstract and a doctoral candidate at the Yale School of Public Health, said their findings would need to be replicated before any public health recommendations are made, but the evidence is becoming clearer that moderate consumption of wine has numerous benefits.
"This conclusion is controversial, because excessive drinking has a negative social and health impact, and it is difficult to define what is moderate and what is excessive," said Han. "However, we are continually seeing a link between wine and positive outcomes in many cancers."
This study was the first to examine the link among patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Han and her colleagues analyzed data about 546 women with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
They found that those who drank wine had a 76 percent five-year survival compared with 68 percent for non-wine drinkers. Further research found five-year, disease-free survival was 70 percent among those who drank wine compared with 65 percent among non-wine drinkers.
Beer and/or liquor consumption did not show a benefit.
The study team at Yale also looked at subgroups of lymphoma patients, and found the strongest link between wine consumption and favorable outcomes among patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. These patients had a 40 to 50 percent reduced risk of death, relapse or secondary cancer.
Researchers then conducted an analysis to examine the effect of wine consumption among those who had drunk wine for at least the previous 25 years before diagnosis. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients who had been drinking wine for at least this long had a 25 to 35 percent reduced risk of death, relapse or secondary cancer.
Those patients with large B-cell lymphoma had about 60 percent reduced risk of death, relapse or secondary cancer if they had been drinking wine for at least the previous 25 years before diagnosis.
"It is clear that lifestyle factors like alcohol can affect outcome," said Han.