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Nutritionist Prof. Nicolai Worm from the German University of Prevention and Health Management in Saarbrücken has pointed out the flaws in scientific studies published on behalf of the World Health Organisation WHO, the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) and other public health institutions at an online seminar of the German Wine Academy on the topic of wine and cancer. They argue that any level of alcohol consumption poses a health risk. The organisations would "ignore data that contradicts their agenda". He stressed that there are "numerous, credible scientific studies" showing that "light to moderate wine consumption with meals reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality".

Worm pointed out that there is a problem with studies on alcohol consumption: "Participants claim to drink less than they actually do. That makes the data unreliable." Study participants who drink two to three glasses of wine a day would very often state in it that they only consume one to two glasses a day. The actual risk of developing health problems due to alcohol is therefore at a lower level because of the frequent understatement. For Worm, under-reporting of quantities is therefore a major problem when it comes to assessing alcohol and cancer risk.

For example, a large study from 2014 with more than 120,000 people entitled"Moderate alcohol intake and cancer: the role of underreporting" concluded: The apparent increased risk of cancer with light to moderate alcohol consumption could be due to underreporting of (participants') consumption.

The other big problem with many studies is the confounding factors that can influence the results. For a study on the subject to be reliable, Prof. Worm explained, it must take into account factors such as age, gender, obesity, sleep, exercise, education, income, social class, sun exposure and countless other factors, including drinking behaviour as well as dietary factors. This is often not sufficiently taken into account.

In addition, Nicolai Worm pointed out that a particularly influential factor for the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer is the intensity of physical activity. The results of a British study from 2016 with more than 36,000 men and women over the age of 40 clearly proved that the cancer risk for study participants with an active lifestyle "does not increase at all" - even for those who drank at a "dangerous level". This study, he said, concludes that adherence to current physical activity recommendations offsets some of the cancer and all-cause mortality risk associated with alcohol consumption.

Prof. Nicolai Worm has also worked for the German Wine Institute (DWI) and the German Wine Academy for many years.

(uka / Photo: German Wine Institute)