Wine and Breast Cancer - Printable Version

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- Innkeeper - 09-20-2004 11:00 AM

There has been a smattering of news stories recently that have included wine as a risk factor for breast cancer. There was a piece on National Public Radio a week or so ago, and an article in the USA Weekend Sunday Supplement this past weekend. Both simply included wine in a list of risk factors and no science was proffered to back up the claims.

A year or so ago there was a smattering of articles suggesting that white wine was effective in preventing cancer. Not sure if it was breast cancer specifically, but some kinds of cancer.

Does anyone know of any science that backs up either of these claims?

- Thomas - 09-20-2004 11:11 AM

IK, the first studies that discovered resveratrol were done to study cancer, and it was learned that the chemical plays a role in preventing some cancers.

That is all I know about wine and cancer, except that now I know wine can prevent it and it can cause it--huh?

- Bucko - 09-20-2004 09:01 PM

1) Research conducted at the University of Porto in Portugal indicates that certain chemicals found abundantly in plant-based beverages, such as red wine, beer and tea, may help kill off breast cancer cells.

Three polyphenolic compounds -- including resveratrol, which is believed to be a factor in red wine's potential health benefits -- were found to "contribute to a significant decrease in breast cancer cell proliferation," the study’s authors reported.

Numerous previous studies have linked alcohol consumption to a possible higher risk of breast cancer, especially in postmenopausal women. It is theorized that alcohol affects the levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, which may trigger breast cells to become cancerous.

However, past research has also shown that compounds in red wine can "confer protective effects on the cardiovascular system and have anticancer, antiviral and antiallergic properties," the researchers in Portugal wrote, explaining what prompted their study.

Their findings were presented at the annual Experimental Biology conference in Washington, D.C., hosted from April 17 to 21, by the American Physiological Society.


2) Drinking a single glass of wine a day increases a woman's chances of developing breast cancer by around 6%, according to a major global study which has been hailed as the final word on the role that alcohol and tobacco play in the disease.

But against the expectations of many, the Oxford University-based collaborative group on hormonal factors in breast cancer found that smoking does not increase the risk of breast cancer - although it causes 15 other types of cancer and especially lung cancer, a major cause of death among women.

Valerie Beral of Cancer Research UK's cancer epidemiology unit at Oxford, which acted as the secretariat for the collaboration, said if women in Britain stopped drinking 2,000 deaths from breast cancer would be avoided annually.

"This research tells us that there is a definite link between alcohol and breast cancer and the evidence suggests that the more a woman drinks, the greater her risk," Professor Beral said. "The impact on breast cancer is small compared to childbearing factors, but women are drinking more now than they used to and if this pattern continues it is bound to have an impact on the rates of breast cancer in the future."

One unit of alcohol is defined as one small glass of wine containing 8g - in Europe and the US a bigger 10g glass is the norm - or half a pint of beer or one measure of spirits. Alcohol intake has gone up among women in Britain, from an average of 7g to 8g a day in the past 10 years.


So take your choice... damned researchers.

- Thomas - 09-21-2004 07:36 AM

As I suspected: drinking wine causes and protects against breast cancer.