Several years ago I got asked to speak at a women’s conference and address the connection between diet and cancer. After researching foods to include and foods to avoid I was surprised to find the strong correlation between alcohol intake and breast cancer. Were the alcohol companies just good at hiding these studies?
Since that time, multiple studies have established the link between alcohol intake and breast cancer risk. Wendy Chen, M.D., Ph.D., a cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, presented her research data at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2005. Her study tracked the health of 122,000 women since 1976 that were free of cancer when the study began.
When compared with those who did not drink, they discovered the following:
• Women who drank the equivalent of half a glass of wine a day were 6 percent more likely to develop breast cancer
• Women who drank the equivalent of a glass or two of wine per day had a 21 percent increased risk of breast cancer
• Women who drank the equivalent of two drinks per day had a 37 percent increased risk of cancer
Alcohol can increase breast cancer risk since it:
• Increases blood triglyceride levels
• Increases estrogen levels in blood circulation
• Decreases the liver’s processing of excess estrogen in the blood and decreases immune function.
A 2009 study published in the UK in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed similar results in women consuming alcohol: consuming as little as one drink per day increases a woman’s risk of several types of cancer by 13 percent.
Everyone reads about how a glass of red wine per day is good for your health. However, the studies that have looked at the correlation between wine and health have consistently shown that resveratrol is the component of alcohol which prevents disease, which is not in the fruit of the grape, but is contained in the skins. Therefore, just eating some grapes every day with skins can be more beneficial to health than a glass of wine.
So the next time you have a snack, reach for some grapes and have a few nuts or a piece of hard cheese for balance.