The Jury is still out on Alcohol consumption, with good and bad news released in new research today (Tuesday).
It appears that substances in red wine, that are already thought to have a raft of health benefits do indeed show promising results in real tests. On the other hand a Harvard study is showing women who drink even moderately (as few as three drinks a week researchers say) increase their risk of breast cancer.
Wendy Y. Chen of the Harvard Medical School tries to clarify that it all depends on the individual :
"If you are someone with a family history of breast cancer but are healthy, at a good weight, exercise regularly, have a healthy diet and don't have a risk for heart disease, then you may make one decision ... another woman who has some cardiovascular risk factors and no history of breast cancer may make a different decision."
Its been common knowledge for years that women could drink about one measure per day and men up to two, and the benefits of alcohol to the heart are also fairy widely accepted. The contrary indications for cancer seem to have reopened the should we, shouldn't we debate and scientists are starting to see that breast cancer risk may be elevated because alcohol can raise the estrogen levels.
The information obviously has to be taken in a balanced way, and there is no need to over react or suddenly abstain, as Steven A. Narod, of the Women's College Research Institute in Toronto, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study in Wednesday's New England Journal of Medicine.
"Women who abstain from all alcohol may find that a potential benefit of lower breast cancer is more than offset by the relinquished benefit of reduced cardiovascular mortality associated with an occasional glass of red wine."
Nonetheless, the new evidence is the first clear sign, and somewhat of a blow to the drinks industry, that alcohol consumption has a definitive risk in terms of cancer, even for those drinking in moderation. The study analyzed more than 100,000 women and spanned from 1980 to 2008. Nearly 7,700 had a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer and those who consumed more than 5 to 10 grams per day or three to six glasses of wine per week were 15% more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Overall, age didn't seem to make a difference, nor the type of alcohol preferred and those who drank less than three drinks per week had no increased risk.
Chen concluded :
"Let's say you usually hardly have a drink, but you are on vacation and have one glass a day on vacation ... that's not a problem ... that's an important thing to emphasize ... it's not just what people do in the short term but their cumulative intake over time."
Written by Rupert Shepherd.