Does drinking wine affect a girl's odds for breast cancer?
Battle of the studies! Just a couple months ago, Harvard University released some buzz-killing stats showing that “women who drink just four small glasses of wine a week increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 15 percent.” That's largely because alcohol consumption is thought to increase estrogen levels — and lord knows cancer cells love their estrogen.
But hold up: Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center here in L.A. would like to make a case for the red variety. A new study out of the hospital to the stars shows that…
Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer, providing a natural weapon to combat a major cause of death among U.S. women.
In the study, red wine actually lowered estrogen levels in participating women. (Luckiest Guinea pigs ever, right?) And “we did not find that the white wine actually increased risk” either, says Chrisandra Shufelt, assistant director of the Women's Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai.
Here's how the welcome new conclusions were drawn: “We looked at 36 women that drank red wine for one month,” says Shufelt. “Then they crossed over and drank white wine for one month.”
At this point, the medical center isn't exactly recommending that some sober Sally turn purple-lipped in a quest for eternal youth. “We didn't test that hypothesis,” says Shufelt. “But we would say that for women who already drink wine” and are worried about contracting breast cancer (and really, who isn't) might want to consider transitioning from white to red.
Oh sweet, sweet science:
The Cedars-Sinai study found that chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month.
… Researchers sought to determine whether red wine mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels. Aromatase inhibitors are currently used to treat breast cancer.
Investigators said the change in hormone patterns suggested that red wine may stem the growth of cancer cells, as has been shown in test tube studies.
Thankfully, this is only the beginning of the red wine vs. breast cancer research at Cedars-Sinai.
“One of possibilites would be to look at how red wine would change breast itself,” says Shufelt. Because “the more dense the breast, the higher the risk factor.”
The study's co-author says she feels “very strongly about this issue.” Think we can agree there. We're not ones to turn down a possibly life-changing prescription for a fat glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, nightly.