Friday, January 6, 2012

Red wine decreases risk of breast cancer

After years of study, beneficial health effects of red wine consumption are still disputed. A recent study provides new fuel for the already lengthy discussion about its effects, by claiming that drinking red wine can cut the risk of breast cancer. Consumption can adjust hormone levels, which is beneficial for preventing breast cancer. Though, white wine lacked this effect.

Moderate consumption
The effect was found in participants who consumed moderate amounts of red wine. Women who drank the equivalent of one glass a day were found to cut the risk of developing breast cancer, because of a decrease in the amount of circulating estrogen, a female hormone. In breast cancer, tumours can arise due to an overload of estrogen, which makes breast tissue grow. Additionally, levels of the male hormone testosterone were found to be increased in moderate consumers of red wine.

Women who participated in the study were randomly assigned to drink either red or white wine for a period of time. After a while, the groups switched beverages, and blood was periodically collected to measure hormone levels. The changing concentrations were only found while the participating women were drinking red wine. Scientists think the effect is due to aromatase inhibitors, which are not present in white wine.

Previous studies focused mostly on resveratrol, a compound predominantly found in red wine. It is supposed to be beneficial for our cardiovascular system, as it decreases the risk and mortality of heart disease, such as atherosclerosis. It is hypothesized that the anti-coagulant effect of red wine reduces the chance of blood clots, which become dangerous when they block the flow rate of a vessel. Resveratrol has many functions, but also features as an aromatase inhibitor in the body. Oddly enough, for those seeking the beneficial effects of red wine, sipping slowly is recommended: this way the concentration of resveratrol in the body can be upped a hundredfold. Just remember to drink in moderation.

The scientists hope their study makes women reassess their choices when it comes to alcoholic beverages. According to them, switching to red wine, for example during dinner, can make the difference when it comes to preventing breast cancer. Because it is the leading cause of women's cancer worldwide, it seems everything that may decrease risk is worth a try. 

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