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Wine In Moderation

"Chi non ama le donne, il vino e il canto, è solo un matto non un santo!"
Arthur Schopenhauer,
1788 » 1860

Cancer prevention in Europe:
the Mediterranean diet as a protective choice.
Prevenzione dei tumori in Europa:
la dieta mediterranea come scelta protettiva.


Giacosa A, Barale R, Bavaresco L, Gatenby P, Gerbi V, Janssens J, Johnston B, Kas K, La Vecchia C, Mainguet P, Morazzoni P, Negri E, Pelucchi C, Pezzotti M, Rondanelli M.


European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 2012 May



In the coming years, European death rates because of cancer will further decline, but the overall number of cases will increase, mostly as a consequence of the ageing of the population. The target for cancer prevention in Europe will remain a healthy diet and control of obesity in addition to a decrease in smoking. A healthy diet model in European countries is the traditional Mediterranean diet, which is based on abundant and variable plant foods, high consumption of cereals, olive oil as the main (added) fat, low intake of (red) meat and moderate consumption of wine. The Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. The biological mechanisms for cancer prevention associated with the Mediterranean diet have been related to the favourable effect of a balanced ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 essential fatty acids and high amounts of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols found in fruit, vegetables, olive oil and wine. The Mediterranean diet also involves a 'Mediterranean way of drinking', that is, regular, moderate consumption of wine mainly with food. This pattern of drinking increases longevity, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and does not appreciably influence the overall risk of cancer. However, heavy alcohol drinking is associated with digestive, upper respiratory tract, liver and breast cancers; therefore, avoidance or restriction of alcohol consumption to two drinks/day in men and one drink/day in women is a global public health priority.



Nei prossimi anni in Europa il tasso di mortalità provocato dal cancro diminuirà ulteriormente, ma il numero complessivo di casi aumenterà, in gran parte come conseguenza dell’invecchiamento della popolazione. In Europa l’obiettivo per prevenire i tumori continuerà ad essere una dieta sana, il controllo dell’obesità e la riduzione del consumo di tabacco. Un modello alimentare salutare nei paesi europei è la dieta mediterranea tradizionale, basata su un consumo frequente e vario di frutta e verdura, un consumo abbondante di cereali, di olio di oliva come grasso (aggiunto) principale, una bassa assunzione di carni (rosse) e un consumo moderato di vino. La dieta mediterranea si associa ad un rischio ridotto di malattie cardiovascolari e tumori. I meccanismi biologici per la prevenzione dei tumori legati ad una dieta mediterranea sono stati associati agli effetti benefici di una composizione equilibrata fra acidi grassi essenziali omega 6 e omega 3 e elevate quantità di fibre, antiossidanti e polifenoli presenti nella frutta, verdure, olio d’oliva e vino. La dieta mediterranea comporta anche un “modo di bere mediterraneo”, vale a dire un consumo regolare, moderato di vino soprattutto durante i pasti. Questo modello di bere allunga la vita, riduce il rischio di malattie cardiovascolari e non influenza significativamente il rischio complessivo di sviluppare un tumore. Tuttavia, un consumo elevato di alcol viene associato a tumori dell’intestino, del tratto respiratorio superiore, del fegato e del seno. In conclusione, il non-consumo o una limitazione nell’assunzione di alcol a due bicchieri al giorno per gli uomini e un bicchiere al giorno per le donne rappresenta una priorità globale di salute pubblica.

Cancer incidence and trends in Europe

Although more than 40% of cancer deaths can be prevented, cancer represents the second most important cause of death and morbidity in Europe, with more than three million new cases and 1.7 million deaths each year. On a global scale, cancer accounted for 7.4 million deaths (around 13% of the total) in 2004. Around one-quarter of all cancer cases occurred in Europe, which accounts for only one-eighth of the world population. Tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption cause about one-third of the total cancer burden, with precise figures varying from country to country. If the consequences of an inappropriate diet, obesity and insufficient physical activity are included, the percentage of cancers because of an unhealthy lifestyle increased to 40%. Lung, colon and breast cancer result in the highest number of cancer deaths each year in Europe and tobacco use is the single most important risk factor for cancer (www.euro.who.int/en/what-we-do/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/cancer/facts-and-figures 2010). Not only does Europe have a wide range in incidence of all common cancers, it also has a wide range in dietary patterns, environmental exposures and social behaviour. Europe offers an ideal ‘laboratory’ for the formulation and testing of hypotheses on the causation of human cancers. The highest incidence of cancer in Europe is found for colon and rectum, breast, lung (with the highest mortality), prostate, stomach (high mortality), bladder (some problems with differences in coding in different countries), pancreas (very high mortality), head and neck, kidney and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (Ferlay et al., 2010). Lung, cervix and stomach cancer are more common in South and Central Europe. Scandinavia appears to have incidences similar to the UK and Denmark. Colorectal cancer is stable/increasing because of changing nutritional habits and obesity in countries with a traditionally low incidence and mortality. Melanomas, prostate, testicular, female lung and breast cancer incidences are increasing (the latter two are because of increased smoking and changing reproductive patterns, respectively). Larynx, ovarian and bladder cancer are stable or decreasing. Consistent decreases have been observed for gastric, cervical and male lung cancer because of improved food preservation, improved personal hygiene and Helicobacter pylori eradication, screening programmes and decreased male smoking, respectively (Karim-Kos et al., 2008; Ferlay et al., 2010).

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