Red or White? The Effect Wine Has On Breast Cancer Risk

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, many women can decrease their chances of dying by nearly 50% simply by following modest lifestyle changes such as consuming five or more servings of fruit and veg a day, and walking 30 minutes a day, six days a week.

But is it as simple to prevent breast cancer in the first place? The largest prospective study on diet and cancer in history suggests we can at least significantly lower the risk. If you manage your weight by eating more plant foods, less animal foods, drinking less alcohol, and breastfeed if you’re a woman, you may significantly lower your risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, UADT cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, and all cancers combined. That’s a lot of cancers you’ve reduced the risk of.

But that’s also a lot of recommendations of how to prevent these cancers. Any we should particularly focus on? A UK study suggests that eating more plant foods is the most powerful factor.

The study shows that in just one year in the UK there were 14,902 ‘excess attributable cases’ of cancer, that could have been avoided but weren’t because of of something that happened ten years before hand. That something? A deficient intake of fruit and veg. It’s hard to imagine any of us would turn a blind eye to a non-diet factor that was found to be responsible for so many instances of cancer.

What if we include the effect of smoking and alcohol then? A group of researchers have worked to develop a ‘healthy lifestyle index’ that considers four key factors:

  1. Moderate to vigorous physical activity (exercise)
  2. Low consumption of fat, processed foods, refined cereals and complexed sugars
  3. Avoidance of tobacco smoking
  4. Avoidance of alcohol

Women who score strongly on these four factors may cut their odds of developing breast cancer by a large amount. For young women it is estimated they can reduce the risk by around 50%, while for older women it can be as high as 80%!

But let’s cut to why you are likely to have clicked on this article…

For women who are unwilling to eliminate alcohol entirely from their diet, is there at least a difference between red and white wine where one is less carcinogenic than the other!?

Well, yes. A study showed unlike beer, liquor and white wine, red wine carried less or even no risk. Why? Well, in the same way mushrooms have previously been found to be the vegetable best able to reduce the activity of *aromatase (*the enzyme used by breast tumors to produce their own estrogen), if you run a similar test to determine which fruit is best at doing the same, grapes come out as king.

More specifically, its the red grapes that you want. Scientists found that “white wine was not able to suppress aromatase activity”, but “red wine may serve as a nutritional aromatase inhibitor, which may ameliorate the elevated breast cancer risk associated with alcohol intake”.

Of course, if you are serious about this whole avoiding breast cancer thing then it is recommended that you avoid the risk of alcohol completely and just eat the grapes themselves. But hey, we’ve laid down the science for you, make of it what you will!


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