While most people avoid alcohol due to its intoxicating effects, which usually causes a lot of accidents and untoward incidents, and the high risk of a number of diseases, including liver cirrhosis, infection of the pancreas, among others, its positive effects and health benefits are also gaining popularity especially when it is taken in moderation.
Moderate drinking means one to two glasses of wine daily. From improving heart health to lowering cholesterol, moderate consumption of red wine can help you stay healthy. The antioxidants in red wines have been shown to provide certain protection against heart disease as they act like warriors, preventing the oxidation process whereby reactive particles known as “free radicals” cause damage to healthy cells. Alcohol has been shown to help your heart in several ways: by raising your HDL (high-density lipoproteins) or “good” cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and preventing the formation of blood clots.
However, there’s a new twist of fate to alcohol drinkers, especially among party girls, as recent studies show some link between alcohol and breast cancer in women. Having one to two drinks a day, once considered as moderate drinking, is now being linked to the higher risks of breast cancer in women. The said increase in risk of breast cancer among women who regularly consume alcohol has risen by 10 percent. Make that three or more drinks a day, and the risk triples to 30 percent.
According to Dr. Yan Li, lead researcher at Kaiser Permanente, they were able to compile and analyze data on the drinking habits of 70,033 women of various races and backgrounds. Their study was focused on determining whether the type of alcohol or just the amount a woman drinks impacts her breast cancer risk. “It makes no difference if a woman drinks wine, beer or liquor. It’s the alcohol itself and the quantity consumed that is critical,” Dr. Li said. In fact, drinking three or more drinks a day may translate into an extra 5 percent of all women developing breast cancer as a result of heavy drinking.
In 2000, a Danish study had found that red wine drinkers had half the risk of dying from heart disease as non-alcohol drinkers. However, some researchers are not convinced and recommends further studies regarding health benefits of red wine. The American Heart Association requires for more research until they do consider drinking wine or any other alcohol for its benefits.
Though the cause of increased risk for breast cancer by heavy use of alcohol remains a mystery, Dr. Li and her colleagues believe that further study may support the evidence that alcohol could alter the pathway of female hormones and produce more hormone sensitive breast cancer.
According to Heather Spencer Feigelson, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society, “the risk of drinking one glass of red wine a day is very low. It’s an individual choice.” With further studies still needed to prove whether the heart-health benefits outweigh the newly shown risk of breast cancer, the decision is up to the women if they still want their glass of red wine as long as they analyze their own risk of heart disease and breast cancer. “Each woman has to analyze her own risk factors to determine what alcohol will do to them,” said Dr. Li.