Red Wine and Breast Cancer

For women who enjoy a little alcohol but are concerned about its link to breast cancer, today’s news may ease their minds a little.

In women, alcohol poses a puzzling problem. In moderate amounts, it can help protect the heart but drinking can put women at a higher risk of breast cancer.

A new study finds that red wine may not pose this threat.

Researchers included 36 women who hadn’t yet gone into menopause. They drank eight ounces of either red wine or white wine every day for one month. They then switched to the opposite wine for a second month. Blood tests showed that the red wine slightly lowered their estrogen levels while raising their levels of the hormone testosterone.

Why is this helpful? Because higher estrogen levels can encourage breast cancer growth. Women’s bodies can convert testosterone into estrogen, but chemicals in grapes, grape juice and red wine may help keep this from happening.

If you don’t drink alcohol already, it’s not a good idea to start just for the possible health benefits. But if you do drink wine, this research suggests that switching to red wine may help limit your risk of breast cancer. You should keep your drinking moderate, which means no more than one drink daily for women.

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