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French wine producers demand withdrawal of cancer booklet

French winemakers are demanding the withdrawal of a medical brochure which claims moderate alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk of cancer.

The brochure, ‘Nutrition and the prevention of cancers’, published by the French National Cancer Institute, INCA, an agency of the ministry of health, is destined for some 70,000 surgeries across France.

It claims that consumption of even small daily amounts of wine and all other alcohols significantly raise an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer, and certain types by as much as 168%.

The winemakers want the publication re-written.

‘When it comes to wine their conclusions go against many reputable medical studies and don’t balance the for and against,’ said winemaker Jean-Charles Tastavy, leading the legal challenge to the INCA document as head of an especially-created association called ‘For the Honour of Wine.’

‘We’ve formally requested that the French health ministry block the publication of the brochure and that the text be modified.

‘If that fails we’ll take the case before the national courts, and even at a European level if necessary,’ Mr. Tastavy told decanter.com.

His campaign has drawn outspoken support from members of the French medical community, including leading urologist and MP, professor Bernard Debré. He described the INCA report as ‘a study that has neither head nor tail, and no real scientific basis.’

The INCA continues to defend its document.

‘These conclusions, founded on more than 500 international studies, are the result of a collective international expertise which represents a reference for the scientific community,’ said Raphaelle Ancellin, head of INCA’s nutrition and cancer programme.

Written by Graham Tearse

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