Wine Color Won't Change Breast Cancer Risk

March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Although moderate consumption of red wine may offer some benefit for your heart, it won't help decrease the risk of breast cancer in women, new research suggests.

"If you choose to drink at all, choose your drink based upon what tastes good to you, because wine is not associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer, regardless of the type," said study author Polly Newcomb, program head of cancer prevention at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

The findings were published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

This study comes on the heels of research released last week that found even one drink a day could increase a woman's risk of developing cancer. That study, which was published in the online version of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, reported that 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.

However, although alcohol has been found to be a factor that increases breast cancer risk, Whitcomb and her colleagues wondered if the type of alcohol might make a difference. Red wine has been touted as a heart-healthy drink, and the researchers set out to see if wine type made a difference in breast cancer risk.

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.

All of the women were surveyed by telephone about their breast cancer risk factors, including their drinking habits. Women with cancer were surveyed within a year of being diagnosed.

The researchers found that women who drink more than 14 drinks per week had a 24 percent increased risk of breast cancer. However, in this study, wine consumption was not associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, though it wasn't associated with any benefit either.

"So many causes of cancer are unknown, but alcohol is a modifiable risk factor for breast cancer," said Newcomb, who suggested that if women choose to drink alcohol at all, they should limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day.

Oncologist Dr. Virginia Kaklamani, from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, agreed. "Drinking a small amount of alcohol is generally not harmful, but more than two drinks a day can become harmful," she said.

And, women who have other risk factors for breast cancer, such as a family history or obesity, should talk with their doctor about how alcohol might affect their risk profile.


SOURCES: Polly Newcomb, Ph.D., program head, cancer prevention, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and senior scientist, Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Washington, Seattle; Virginia Kalkalmani, M.D., oncologist, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago; March 2009, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

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