Research suggests wine neither increases nor reduces breast cancer risk

In a recent blog I told you about a study of more than 1.2 million women in the UK that concluded that alcohol consumption may account for nearly 13% of all breast, liver, rectal, and upper digestive tract cancers in women. The study found that even relatively small amounts of alcohol appear to raise cancer risk. But, what about wine? Does it carry the same risk?

More Information:

Canada’s CBC News reports that investigators at the Fred Hutchinson Center in Seattle claim “there’s apparently no difference between drinking red or white when it comes to wine’s effect on breast cancer rates – and both appear to have a negative impact.” 

Lead investigator Polly Newcomb, PhD, MPH, explained, “The general evidence is that alcohol consumption overall increases breast-cancer risk.”

In my previous blog, last week, I talked about a team of scientists who said that they “found even one drink a day could increase a woman’s risk of developing cancer.” HealthDay noted that according to that study, published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “for every additional drink consumed per day, there are about 15 extra cases of cancer diagnosed for every 1,000 women under age 75, and that most of those cancers are breast cancer.” 

But would “wine type” make “a difference in breast cancer risk?” 

To answer that, the “researchers enrolled 6,327 women between the ages of 20 and 69 who had been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and 7,558 women without cancer to serve as a control group.” 

All of the women were from Wisconsin, Massachusetts (excluding Boston), and New Hampshire.

While “82 percent of women in both groups reported drinking in the prior year, breast cancer cases were 24 percent more likely to drink 14 or more alcoholic beverages per week after multivariable adjustment,” MedPage Today reported. And, “this risk appeared limited to postmenopausal women.” 

Investigators also noted that “although higher intake of all types of alcohol tended to increase risk, the only significant association was with liquor which appeared to be driving the overall association.” 

But “wine did not increase breast cancer risk significantly overall or in the highest consumption group for 14 or more glasses per week versus nondrinkers.” 

And, “neither red nor white wine were significant risks, either incrementally or at the highest consumption levels.” 

WebMD also covered the story and noted, “Researchers say this was one of the largest studies of its kind to examine the relationship between wine and breast cancer, and the results suggest neither red nor white wine is related to breast cancer.”

So, although there is significant concern that, according to one editorial, “there is no level of alcohol consumption that can be considered safe,” it may be that white or red white may not increase breast cancer risk while conferring some cardiovascular benefits.

Perhaps the final word can be found in the guidelines from organizations including the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society that recommend no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one a day for women. 

This study may encourage women who have a freedom in the area of alcohol to make that drink a glass of wine. 

 

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