Alcohol consumption has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, but the antioxidants in wine may, in theory, provide protection. This association was studied in 28,160 men and women subjects from three prospective studies conducted in 1964-1992 in Copenhagen, Denmark. After adjustment for age, smoking, and education, a low to moderate alcohol intake (1-20 drinks per week) was not associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. Men who consumed 21-41 and more than 41 drinks per week had relative risks of 1.23 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88-1.74) and 1.57 (95% CI 1.06-2.33), respectively. The risk of lung cancer differed according to the type of alcohol consumed: After abstainers were excluded, drinkers of 1-13 and more than 13 glasses of wine per week had relative risks of 0.78 (95% CI 0.63-0.97) and 0.44 (95% CI 0.22-0.86), respectively, as compared with nondrinkers of wine (p for trend = 0.002). Corresponding relative risks for beer intake were 1.09 (95% CI 0.83-1.43) and 1.36 (95% CI 1.02-1.82), respectively (p for trend = 0.01); for spirits, they were 1.21 (95% CI 0.97-1.50) and 1.46 (95% CI 0.99-2.14), respectively (p for trend = 0.02). In women, the ability to detect associations with high alcohol intake and type of beverage was limited because of a limited range of alcohol intake. The authors concluded that in men, a high consumption of beer and spirits is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer, whereas wine intake may protect against the development of lung cancer.