Red Wine a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer
Red Wine a Risk Factor for Breast Cancer

The results of a study led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggest that red wine consumption offers no protection against breast cancer, and is just as much as a risk factor for breast cancer as any other alcohol consumption.

For the study, the researchers interviewed 6,327 women with breast cancer and 7,558 age-matched controls about their frequency of alcohol consumption (red wine, white wine, liquor and beer) and other breast-cancer risk factors, such as age at first pregnancy, family history of breast cancer and postmenopausal hormone use. The study participants, ages 20 to 69, were from Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The frequency of alcohol consumption was similar in both groups, and equal proportions of women in both groups reported consuming red and white wine.

The results of the study demonstrated that women who consumed 14 or more drinks per week, regardless of the type (red wine, white wine, liquor or beer), faced a 24 percent increase in breast cancer compared with non-drinkers.

"We were interested in teasing out red wine's effects on breast cancer risk. There is reason to suspect that red wine might have beneficial effects based on previous studies of heart disease and prostate cancer," said lead author Polly Newcomb. "The general evidence is that alcohol consumption overall increases breast cancer risk, but the other studies made us wonder whether red wine might in fact have some positive value."

"We found no difference between red or white wine in relation to breast cancer risk. Neither appears to have any benefits," Newcomb said. "If a woman drinks, she should do so in moderation, no more than one drink a day. And if a woman chooses red wine, she should do so because she likes the taste, not because she thinks it may reduce her risk of breast cancer," she said.

Other laboratory research (Resveratrol Suppresses Abnormal Cell Formation in Breast Cancer) has shown that resveratrol found in red wine and red grapes suppresses the abnormal cell formation that leads to most types of breast cancer, suggesting a potential role in breast cancer prevention.

Resveratrol has the ability to block the formation of the estrogen DNA adducts, which prevent the first step that occurs when estrogen starts the process that leads to breast cancer.


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