According to a study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer.
This new research, published online in the Journal of Women’s Health, challenges the widely-held belief that all types of alcohol consumption heighten the risk of developing breast cancer. Physicians have determined repeatedly that alcohol increases the body’s estrogen levels, fostering the growth of cancer cells. In opposition, the Cedars-Sinai study found that chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered participants' estrogen levels, while also elevating testosterone among the premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month. White wine did not have the same effects.
Researchers, citing the study, called their findings encouraging, saying women who occasionally drink alcohol might want to reassess their choices, in terms of what they drink.
“If you were to have a glass of wine with dinner, you may want to consider a glass of red,” said Chrisandra Shufelt, MD, assistant director of the Women’s Heart Center at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, and one of the study’s co-authors. “Switching may shift your risk.”
Shufelt pointed out that breast cancer is the leading type of women’s cancer in the U.S., accounting for more than 230,000 new cases last year, or 30 percent of all female cancer diagnoses. It's estimated that 39,000 women died from the disease in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society.
In the Cedars-Sinai study, 36 women were studied and randomized to drink either the wine(s)-- Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay daily for almost a month, then switched to the other type of wine. Their blood was collected twice each month, to measure hormone levels.
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The scientists sought to determine whether red wine mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels. Therapies using aromatase inhibitors are currently used to treat breast cancer.
Investigators report that this research shows the change in hormone patterns suggest red wine may stem the growth of cancer cells, as test tube studies indicate.
The full study will be published in the April print edition of the Journal of Women's Health.
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