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Delhi Wine Club
Study: Wine may increase Risk of Breast Cancer

Posted: Wednesday, 31 May 2017 11:31


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Study: Wine may increase Risk of Breast Cancer

May 31: Although many studies have shown that wine is good for heart, a few have also tried to ascertain that it increases the risk of cancer and even a glass a day may increase the risk of breast cancer, according to the latest study at the University of Minnesota, even as a health journalist blames the media and the scientific community for trying to get attention by looking for health effects of popular foods

I attended my first wine and health International Conference in 2003 in Napa Valley, California where both the protagonists of the 90-Minutes programme in 1991, Dr. Curt Ellison and Late Dr. Serge Renaud talked about the positive benefits of red wine for heart;  the term ‘French Paradox’ was also coined in that TV programme.

At this Conference, there was discussion on the negative effect of wine on breast cancer for women. Although Dr. Ellison could not find any direct relationship but he conceded that some studies had indicated this relationship existed. However, as reported by delWine as proceedings at the conference, ‘several studies have now shown that adequate intake of folates blocks any increase in the risk of breast cancer. Folates are found in leafy greens, fruits and whole grains. You can also take them in the form of pills.’ In fact, Dr Ellison had personally re-confirmed the same to me when I mailed him an enquiry later when the Delhi Wine club organised ‘After French Paradox’ at the French Embassy in 2004 and the question was raised by some women in the Audience.

New Study on wine and breast cancer

Another studies released last week touched the same topic and concluded that even a single drink per day could increase breast cancer risk. Silvia Balbo, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, who studies the metabolic effect of alcohol on human tissue, pointed to possible negative effect of drinking alcohol.

‘There is a trend associating alcohol consumption with breast cancer, but the precise mechanisms are still not understood’, she said even though conceding, "It hasn't really been clarified if the problem is disruption of hormonal balance or the metabolism of alcohol that includes the formation of acetaldehyde, which is already known to be carcinogenic and  which can interact with DNA and lead to mutations. Breast cancer is so complex with so many different types and variables."

She says experts are also unclear about safe exposure levels."Most are based on self-assessment, where researchers ask patients how many drinks they had in the past week or month; even the definition of a 'drink' is imprecise.

Critique of the Study

However, a health journalist reportedly is very critical about such studies. Kevin Lomangino says, "If you follow the arc of these stories over time, they go back and forth over the years and we rarely ever get a definitive answer." Both the media and the scientific community are to blame. The current study for instance has been heavily reported within a couple of days after it was released. Even the researchers know they'll get attention if they look for (negative) health effects of wine. As Kevin also says, there's a proliferation of research where people are surveyed about what they eat and then they sift through the data looking for some kind of health outcome.’

"I can't remember a week that has featured so much useless reporting about studies that are meaningless to the average reader," he said, calling it a crisis of car health news in his commentary  
"These are generally observational studies based on questionnaires where researchers go and ask people what they ate and then try to correlate it with a health outcome," he said, adding ‘while that kind of research can be useful, there are many limitations which are not shared with readers. And the conclusions are never definitive.’

"I think these stories overall are giving people a misguided sense of how beneficial these practices are, or in some cases, how harmful they are," says Kevin.

No more explanation is needed after his colourful commentary.

Here are a couple of earlier related Articles:

Wine & Heart Health Summit to Open on Feb. 14 at Napa

Father of French Paradox gets Highest Honour

Wine-An Affair Of The Heart

Subhash Arora

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