Need another reason to drink more red wine?

In the past few years, researchers have found evidence for all sorts of healthful effects of red wine, particularly on the heart.

Now, a study has found that men who drink four to seven glasses of red wine weekly are about half as likely to develop prostate cancer as those who do not.

Researchers studied many factors that might affect the risk of prostate cancer in men between ages 40 and 64, including drinking alcohol. As part of their research, they evaluated each type of alcoholic beverage individually. Here they found a surprise-wine drinking was linked to the most reduced risk of prostate cancer. Red wine had a much greater benefit than white wine and the effect increased with increased wine intake. For every additional glass of red wine drunk per week, risk declined by 6%.

Why is this? The study, reported in the June 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch, did not address this question. But a good place to look for an explanation might be the flavonoids and other substances found in red wine but absent from most other alcoholic drinks. Flavanoids have antioxidant properties and some appear to counteract androgens, the male hormones that stimulate the prostate.

Many doctors are reluctant to recommend that their patients drink alcohol for their health, fearing that this might serve as an invitation to alcohol abuse. The evidence is mounting, however, that men who enjoy alcohol in moderation may benefit from a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cardiac death.