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Red Wine May Reduce Women’s Breast Cancer Risk

by Nannette Eaton on January 23, 2012

A nice red might be what the doctor ordered. It is generally accepted that alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast cancer in women. But a Cedars Sinai study suggests that moderate red wine drinking may aid in reducing women’s breast cancer risk. The study will be published in the April 2012 edition of the Journal of Woman’s Health, titled Red Versus White Wine as a Nutritional Aromatase Inhibitor in Premenopausal Women, challenges the widely-held belief that all types of alcohol consumption heighten the risk of developing breast cancer. Doctors long have determined that alcohol increases the body’s estrogen levels, fostering the growth of cancer cells. However there have been numerous studies that have identified several chemoprotective chemicals in wine, including isoflavone phytoestrogens, flavones, and procyanidin B dimers which seem to provide protection against cancer cells and may ameliorate the elevated breast cancer risk associated with alcohol intake.

The Cedars-Sinai study found that chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month. Researchers called their findings encouraging, saying women who occasionally drink alcohol might want to reassess their choices. “If you were to have a glass of wine with dinner, you may want to consider a glass of red,” said Chrisandra Shufelt, MD, assistant director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and one of the study’s co-authors.  “Switching may shift your risk.” Shufelt noted that breast cancer is the leading type of women’s cancer in the U.S., accounting for more than 230,000 new cases last year, or 30 percent of all female cancer diagnoses. An estimated 39,000 women died from the disease in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society.

Further studies need to be conducted. If you don’t drink, Wine Harlots aren’t suggesting you start, but if you’re hankering for a glass of vino, check with your medical professional, a glass of red wine might be just what the doctor orders.