One glass of red wine a day could protect men against prostate cancer , according to a study.
But the same amount of white wine could increase the risk of developing the disease, researchers have warned.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology, said the discrepancy could be down to natural chemicals in the skin of red grapes which are released during the wine-making process.
Levels of the natural chemical resveratrol are said to be 10 times higher in red wine than in white wine.
Scientists say drinking a ‘moderate amount’ of red could lead to a 12% less chance of developing prostate cancer.
The same couldn’t be said for white wine, which led to a ‘slight’ increase in risk.
Scientists, from institutions in Romania, Austria, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Jordan, Canada, and the USA, looked at 611,169 men included in 17 studies over the years in the meta analysis.
They said: “Moderate wine consumption did not impact the risk of prostate cancer.
“Interestingly, regarding the type of wine, moderate consumption of white wine increased the risk of prostate cancer whereas moderate consumption of red wine had a protective effect.
“Further analyses are needed to assess the differential molecular effect of white and red wine conferring their impact on prostate cancer risk.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in UK men, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
Each year around 11,000 men in the UK will die from the disease.
Studies in the past have indicated how drinking beer could lead to an increased risk.
Scientists continued: “In the present study, we found that wine is not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer as other alcohol or beer consumption is.
“This could be based on several factors that make wine less harmful than other types of alcohols.
“One of the factors might be the chemical composition of wine, which is a hydroalcoholic solution with a wide range of bioactive chemical components, including aldehydes, esters, ketones, lipids, minerals, organic acids, phenolics, soluble proteins, sugars and vitamins.
“Second, the anti carcinogenic effect of polyphenols mainly contained by red wine may balance any other harmful effects of wine consumption.
“Third, in the case of beer, the bioavailability of the phenolic compounds is very low, thus decreasing their potential anti carcinogenic effects.”
Men over the age of 50, those with a family history of the disease, and blank men are more at risk of prostate cancer.
Dr Jiri Kubes, a specialist in prostate cancer and medical director at Proton Therapy UK, said: “A number of studies have looked at the relationship between alcohol and cancer, indicating that drinking more alcohol puts you at more risk.
“Clearly, the advice isn’t to start drinking more alcohol, but to encourage responsible drinking.”
Dr Kubes, who runs the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic, added: “Symptoms of prostate cancer include frequent urination at night, interrupted urination, painful urination or ejaculation, or blood in the urine and sperm.
“But prostate cancer can be present without any symptoms for many years.
“This means it’s important for men to keep a close eye on their health and if they are concerned to speak to their GP about some of the tests that are available.
“Survival rates for prostate cancer are good if the disease is caught early.”