Wine and resveratrol: mechanisms of cancer prevention?

Eur J Cancer Prev. 2003 Oct;12(5):417-25. doi: 10.1097/00008469-200310000-00011.


Low alcohol consumption seems to decrease total mortality and to have beneficial properties on cardiovascular disease; data for cancer are still inconclusive. There is evidence that wine consumption decreases the risk of cancer at several sites, including cancer of upper digestive tract, lung, colon, basal cell carcinoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The presence of resveratrol, a polyphenol specifically present in red wine, may contribute to these cancer preventive effects. Resveratrol in fact inhibits the metabolic activation of carcinogens, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, decreases cell proliferation and induces apoptosis. Data on the availability of resveratrol in vivo are however still lacking. Although regular consumption of one or two glasses of wine seems reasonably safe from the health point of view, a recommendation to the general population for low wine consumption is not justified.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Chemoprevention*
  • Humans
  • Mortality / trends
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Resveratrol
  • Risk Factors
  • Stilbenes / pharmacology*
  • Wine*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Stilbenes
  • Resveratrol