Women have been toasting red wine research for years, tossing back their cabernets and pinot noirs with every finding that has linked red wine to such health benefits as lowered heart attack risk and slower aging.
But the party may be over. Two major studies have linked alcohol, including red wine, to increased breast cancer risk in women. What’s a red wine lover to do?
The good news: Many red wine studies suggest moderate amounts (one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men) lower the risk of heart attack for middle-aged people by 30 percent to 50 percent.
Other studies indicate red wine can raise HDL (good) cholesterol and prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Animal research indicates concentrated levels of resveratrol, found in red wine, may be key in extending human lifespan (although you’d have to drink at least 100 bottles a week to get the amounts currently being tested on mice).
The bad news: A large British study found that even one small glass of wine, liquor or beer a day increased the risk of certain cancers — breast, rectum, liver, mouth and throat — in women by 6 percent by the time they reached age 75.
The risk doubled for women who consumed two drinks a day.
An even more recent study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle revealed that women who consumed 14 or more alcoholic drinks per week faced a 24 percent increase in breast cancer compared with nondrinkers.
Other negatives related to drinking alcohol include weight gain due to its empty calories.
The sensible approach: Although they haven’t reacted to the most recent study, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one a day for women.
If you don’t drink alcohol, the groups say you shouldn’t start drinking because the risks outweigh any possible benefits.
What about whites? Sorry, white wine doesn’t enjoy red’s healthy heart claims.
That’s because most of the benefits are found in the skin and seeds of grapes, which are left on in the red-winemaking process. White wine is fermented without the skins of grapes.
Bottom line: You’re only fooling yourself if you think all that red wine is making you healthy.
It’s OK to enjoy it in moderation, but if you want the healthy heart benefits, eat red grapes or drink grape juice. It won’t give you that warm buzz, but it’s safer than red wine.