The word on wine and women

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: July 30th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

For years we’ve been told a glass or two of wine may actually be good for you by staving off the risk of heart disease. But now there’s growing evidence that might not be the case for women.

Scientists are increasingly finding evidence linking alcohol consumption and breast cancer. The most recent study, by Danish researchers, tracked ten-thousand women for twenty-seven years. They found that the more alcohol the women consumed at the beginning of the study, the more likely they were to develop breast cancer nearly three decades later.

Researchers are still puzzling over what causes the link between alcohol and breast cancer. Alcohol does increase levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer. And in animals, alcohol has been known to produce abnormalities in the mammary gland. But researchers are still searching for more definitive answers.

But here’s the good news: There may be ways to counteract the harmful effects of drinking. One nutrient doctors are studying is folic acid, found in leafy greens, citrus fruits and dried beans. Evidence suggests that women who eat a diet rich in folic acid have a lower risk of breast cancer.

There’s widespread agreement among doctors that if women do drink alcohol, they should limit consumption to no more than one drink per day, which is defined as five ounces of wine, twelve ounces of beer or one-point-five ounces of distilled spirits, such as whiskey.

Or, to put another way, everything in moderation.