Drinking Wine & Breast Cancer

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Does drinking a bit of wine have good or negative health consequences? Scientific studies have produced mixed results. One of the latest indicates that drinking wine increases breast cancer rates. The increase isn't huge, but even drinking small amounts of wine is linked with some increase and that's enough to warrant concern.



Britain's Telegraph reports:


A new study conducted by researchers at Harvard University has found that women who drink just four small glasses of wine a week increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 15 per cent. ...Women who drank up to four units a day were 50 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not drink at all, it was found.

Moderate drinking has been found to protect against heart disease and doctors warned women who may consider abstaining from alcohol in light of the findings that they may miss out on these benefits. ...

It also found that binge drinkers were at greater risk than those who drank small amounts regularly and alcohol consumption in early adulthood leads to more cancers than those drinking later in life.

The study was done by the American Medical Association and it involved 106,000 nurses from 1980 to 2008. That sounds like it should be a solid, reliable study. On the other hand, this study of the health effects of wine drinking relies heavily on self-reporting and those sorts of studies can be very unreliable.


When it comes to cancer, a lot comes down to family history. If you have a strong family history of the sorts of diseases that light wine drinking can protect against, then you probably shouldn't stop drinking (assuming you drink in moderation). If you have a strong family history of a disease that wine drinking can contribute to, then you should cut back or stop.


On the other hand, a large number of breast cancers afflict women with no family history and no risk factors — you can't assume that if you don't have a family history, then you're safe. Confused, yet? You should be. Science isn't always definitive and can often produce conflicting results, at least where human behavior is concerned.


We're all different and there is no single set of rules that we can all follow to get the same results. There's no one set of recommendations about how much wine we should or should not drink. In the end, it all comes down to living a full and happy life. Find what works best for you and don't stressed out over what might or might not be working for others. You're not them and the stress definitely isn't good for you.

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