Women may now have something to think about before they toast their next glass of red wine.
Drinking four glasses of red wine per week could increase a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer, according to findings from a recent study conducted at Harvard University.
The study’s findings are based the results of a survey given to more than 100,000 nurses who answered questionnaires about their health habits and alcohol consumption from 1980 until 2008. It found that women who drink red wine have a 15 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
This study brought new considerations to light because red wine has recently been praised for its health benefits when consumed in moderation.
John Boyer, the geography of wine instructor, said red wine consumption has increased in recent years because of its heart-healthy characteristics.
“For the first time ever in American history there’s an equivalent amount of people drinking
wine as beer, because the perception of wine is being changed as being part of a healthy diet,” he said.
Red wine contains resveratrol, a substance that may help prevent heart disease by stopping blood clot damage and reducing cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
“Resveratrol and other chemicals are the good things that provide really great health benefits, most of which is concentrated in the color and the skins of grapes,” Boyer said.
“If you just squeeze the juice out of grapes of any color and produce wine out of it, it will be a white wine. The way you make a wine red is to have the grape juice come into contact with the skins of the grapes themselves.”
But resveratrol is also a type of estrogen, according to a spokesperson at the American Cancer Society. Consuming too much of it could
influence the estrogen levels in a person’s body, which could cause the development of breast tumors.
There have been about 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Women should look at their personal history to decipher their risk factors for breast cancer, an American Cancer Society spokesperson said.
If a woman’s family has a history of breast cancer, she may not want to drink red wine. But if a woman has a strong
family history of heart disease, she may want to decrease the risk by drinking red wine, they said.
“I have a history of breast cancer in my family, so I wouldn’t risk it,” said Courtney Edwards, a freshman communication major.
Morgan Hicks, a junior human development major, said she would also choose not to drink red wine.
“I do not have enough information on the effects of red wine, so I would be wary to make a decision considering the
health benefits of having a glass of red wine daily,” Hicks said. “I also believe that in moderation, red wine would not present cause for any problems.”
Despite the possible risk, red wine consumption is not likely to stop any time soon. Roya Gharavi, the owner of Gourmet Pantry, a store specializing in kitchen supplies, wines and other food items, said she will not give up drinking red wine because of its other health benefits.
“If women are worried about it then they should expand their horizons, because there are a lot of good white wines out there,” she said. “They are just as enjoyable as red wine because the variety is just huge.”