Breast cancer is a leading cause of death amongst women. Several studies have shown significant association between alcohol consumption and breast cancer. Breast cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK. In 2005 more than 45,500 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, that’s around 125 women a day. Risk factors are family history (genetic), sedentary life style, diet, smoking and alcohol. In many recent studies a significant association between alcohol intake and breast cancer has been found. There is an increase risk of 7% for each additional 10 grams of alcohol consumed on a daily basis.
There is a lot of disagreement about whether drinking alcohol has healthy benefits for the body. Some previous studies have even led to recommendations for drinking a moderate amount (one glass a day) of red wine (but no other alcoholic beverages) to help reduce the risk of heart attack. This comes from the benefits of resveratrol intake. Resveratrol is an antioxidant that comes from the skins of the grapes that are used to make wine. However benefits from resveratrol can come from just eating fresh grapes or blueberries. If you want to get more resveratrol, consume it in your diet. This way, you'll get more than just resveratrol. You’ll also get fiber that will tell you when it's time to stop eating (are there grapeaholics?) and you won’t have any of the side effects of drinking alcohol.
For instance studies show that even a moderate (one glass a day) alcohol consumption is linked to atrial fibrillation, a condition that can lead to stroke, and to higher rates of breast cancer. Other results suggest that consumption of one or two alcoholic drinks per day by postmenopausal women could increase their risk of breast cancer. Alcohol is converted to carcinogenic substances through the oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde and the generation of free radicals. Alcohol is also being investigated for its’ role in metastasis of tumor cells.
Smith et al found that alcohol intake of at least 30g daily over a period of years increased the risk of breast cancer by 30 to 40% compared with non-drinkers. For postmenopausal women even less than one drink a day was associated with up to a 30% increase in breast cancer mortality compared to non-drinkers.
This information leads me to believe that the perceived benefits of drinking wine are outweighed by the risk of developing breast cancer. I’ll keep eating my blueberries and grapes and worry about something else for a while.