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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16(8), 17029-17047; doi:10.3390/ijms160817029

Ethanol versus Phytochemicals in Wine: Oral Cancer Risk in a Light Drinking Perspective

Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche, Chirurgiche ed Odontoiatriche, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Beldiletto 1/3, 20142 Milan, Italy
Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e Ambientali, Università degli Studi di Milano, via G. Celoria 2, 20122 Milan, Italy
These authors contributed equally to the work.
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Chang Won Choi
Received: 6 July 2015 / Revised: 13 July 2015 / Accepted: 13 July 2015 / Published: 27 July 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Molecular Research in Plant Secondary Metabolism 2015)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [893 KB, uploaded 27 July 2015]   |  


This narrative review aims to summarize the current controversy on the balance between ethanol and phytochemicals in wine, focusing on light drinking and oral cancer. Extensive literature search included PUBMED and EMBASE databases to identify in human studies and systematic reviews (up to March 2015), which contributed to elucidate this issue. Independently from the type of beverage, meta-analyses considering light drinking (≤1 drinks/day or ≤12.5 g/day of ethanol) reported relative risks (RR) for oral, oro-pharyngeal, or upper aero-digestive tract cancers, ranging from 1.0 to 1.3. One meta-analysis measured the overall wine-specific RR, which corresponded to 2.1. Although little evidence exists on light wine intake, phytochemicals seem not to affect oral cancer risk, being probably present below the effective dosages and/or due to their low bioavailability. As expected, the risk of oral cancer, even in light drinking conditions, increases when associated with smoking habit and high-risk genotypes of alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenases. View Full-Text
Keywords: polyphenols; alcohol; risk factors; nutrition; oral squamous cell carcinoma; Mediterranean diet polyphenols; alcohol; risk factors; nutrition; oral squamous cell carcinoma; Mediterranean diet

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Varoni, E.M.; Lodi, G.; Iriti, M. Ethanol versus Phytochemicals in Wine: Oral Cancer Risk in a Light Drinking Perspective. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2015, 16, 17029-17047.

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