Women's health

Chianti or Chardonnay? Both red and white wine carry the same breast cancer risk

zone image Wine drinking associated with breast cancer risk

New research from a large study which compared the effect of red and white wine drinking on breast-cancer risk, found that both are equal offenders when it comes to increasing breast-cancer risk. The results are published in the March issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

“We were interested in teasing out red wine’s effects on breast-cancer risk. There is reason to suspect that red wine might have beneficial effects based on previous studies of heart disease and prostate cancer,” said lead author Polly Newcomb, head of the Cancer Prevention Program at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Centre in Seattle.

“The general evidence is that alcohol consumption overall increases breast-cancer risk, but the other studies made us wonder whether red wine might in fact have some positive value.”

Researchers interviewed 6,327 women with breast cancer and 7,558 others of the same age (20-69) without the disease. They were asked about their frequency of alcohol consumption (red wine, white wine, spirits and beer) as well as other breast-cancer risk factors, such as age at first pregnancy, family history of breast cancer and postmenopausal hormone use.

The frequency of alcohol consumption was similar in both groups, and equal proportions of women in both groups reported consuming red and white wine.

The results showed that women who consumed 14 or more drinks per week, regardless of the type (wine, spirits or beer), faced a 24 percent increase in breast cancer compared with non-drinkers.

Dr. Newcomb and colleagues found no compelling reason to choose Chianti over Chardonnay:

“We found no difference between red or white wine in relation to breast-cancer risk. Neither appears to have any benefits,” she said.

“If a woman drinks, she should do so in moderation – no more than one drink a day. And if a woman chooses red wine, she should do so because she likes the taste, not because she thinks it may reduce her risk of breast cancer.”

This article was published on Tue 10 March 2009

Image © Vladislav Gansovsky - Fotolia.com

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