If you're a lover of white wine, recent study findings might concern you when it comes to your health. According to a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, it appears that white wine may increase your risk of melanoma. Red wine drinkers may not have anything to worry about — the study suggests there might be a correlation between developing melanoma and drinking wine, but only if it's white wine, not red — but either way, though, you probably don't have to go pouring every bottle of sauvignon blanc you have down the drain just yet. There are still plenty of limitations to the findings; we're only scratching the tip of the proverbial iceberg here. Isn't that a relief?
For this study, researchers examined the health records of over 200,000 people and discovered that one glass of white wine per day raised the risk of melanoma by 13 percent. Interestingly, the melanoma appeared in areas of the body that are typically not touched by the sun, implying that these areas may not have been typical locations for melanoma to appear from simple sun exposure.
The same increase in risk, however, was not found for red wine drinkers — which, honestly, is pretty curious. How can this be? We don't totally know yet, but study author Eunyoung Cho, ScD, an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School, said according to a press release that the risk might come from elevated levels of carcinogenic compounds called acetaldehyde in some wines — but that "the antioxidants in red wine may offset the risks."
Unsurprisingly, these results have white wine drinkers pretty spooked. But is there reason to be? While it's always good to be informed and up-to-date when it comes to your health, with research, it's integral to look at where data comes from, how it's collected, and the shape of the study. In this case, we're looking at a correlation between two factors — melanoma and white wine drinking — but we're not necessarily looking at causation. (Remember that rule from high school science? Correlation is not causation.)
This difference is important because while two factors may correlate, this simply means they have a statistical relationship. It doesn't necessarily mean that one factor causes or influences the other. In the case of this study, we're looking at a correlation between white wine drinkers and melanoma, but not proof that drinking white wine actually causes melanoma. So basically, if you enjoy drinking a glass of white wine, there's no reason to panic. Indeed, as Mount Sinai's Dr. Hooman Khorasani, who was unconnected with the study, told CBS New York, you don't necessarily have to stop drinking white wine entirely. "I don't think the data are strong enough to support that," Dr. Khorasani said.
Of course, if you're worried about sun exposure or possible melanoma, it's important to see a medical professional and get checked out as soon as possible. Your health should always be a top priority, and if you do notice symptoms that concern you, that's no reason to wait or avoid seeking medical attention. There are many common symptoms of skin cancer to keep an eye out for, as well as many misconceptions about melanoma that are good to brush up on. While medical professionals are here to help us, it's also good to educate ourselves so we can better understand our own bodies and advocate for ourselves.
But if you enjoy a glass of white wine from time to time, you're probably going to be fine.
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