Conference Told Whisky Can Protect Against Cancer

May 11, 2005

The French may have their red wine, but Scottish single malt whisky could be an even more powerful anti-cancer agent.

According to a report from Agence France Presse (AFP) a research study presented at the EuroMedLab 2005 conference, currently being held in Scotland, claims that the traditional drink contains high levels of a powerful antioxidant that kills cancer cells.

The AFP report cited research by Jim Swan, MD, and an independent consultant to the global drinks industry, which found that single malt whisky contains “more ellagic acid than red wine”. The acid is an effective “free radical scavenger” that “absorbs” or “eats up” rogue cells that occur in the body during eating.

“The free radicals can break down the DNA structure of our existing cells, which then leads to the risk of the body making replacement rogue cancer cells,” Swan explained.

However, as is the case with most scientific studies, there’s also an opposing view. The AFP reported that Lesley Walker of Cancer Research UK was dubious. She cited the “considerable data documenting the link between drinking excess alcohol and the increased risk of a number of cancers, particularly in smokers.” While ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant, “that does not mean it is necessary to hit the bottle,” she continued, noting that the compound can also be found in soft fruits.

The word whisky (without the “e”) comes from the Gaelic “usquebaugh”, and literally means “Water of Life.” As more research is obviously needed on this important discovery, readers who are interested can obtain additional information about this ancient product on a number of Websites, notably: and

One could also simply buy a bottle of good single malt and test it out. Even if it doesn’t cure cancer, the experience can be quite satisfying.

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