Red wine is known to be rich in phyto-chemicals (chemicals found in plants), particularly compounds called polyphenols, which is why it is sometimes recommended because they are known to have anti- oxidant or anti cancer properties.
But contrary to the above claim, a new study has said that a daily consumption of red wine may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
According to the study , moderate drinking has similar ties to the disease as heavy alcohol consumption because women who drink just two glasses of wine a day are 50 per cent more likely to get breast cancer than those who don’t drink at all. Those who indulge in only three or four glasses of wine over an entire week are also putting themselves at risk.
The antioxidant content of red wine is said to be of very good health benefits as antioxidants help repair damages cells caused by harmful oxygen byproducts in the body.
Some research has found that antioxidants can help reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer, and red wine is full of them but with the outcome of this study, there seems to be a contradiction as against the widely known health benefits of red wine.
Researchers also warn that women who drink regularly in their 20s and 30s are far more likely to develop the illness in later life, regardless of whether they subsequently cut back.
But this study found that even half this amount – seven units a week – could raise the risk of breast cancer by 15 per cent.
And women who drank nearly four units daily, that is, two glasses of wine increased the likelihood by 50 per cent.
A dietician, Dr Mopelola Ajako explains: “There are a lot of factors that could trigger breast cancer. Red wine taken in excess could trigger the onset of a cancer .Just as the saying goes that too much of everything is bad. When a woman takes two glasses of wine everyday and you multiply it by 7 days in a week, it gives you 14 glasses. That means at the end of the week a total of 14 glasses is consumed. At the end of the month a total number of 56 glasses would have been taken. You can now imagine when that happens through the years. At the end of the day you discover that excessive wine has been consumed and this would in turn have a debilitating effect on the health of the consumer in which breast cancer could be one of them”.
According to Ajako, the nutritional content of red wine is minimal as it contains no fat, cholesterol, or dietary fiber in it. On the other hand, only with overindulgence would anyone reach their minimum daily requirement for calories, carbohydrates, sodium, protein, vitamins or minerals, all of which all red wines contain to some mostly insignificant degree. The specific content varies between types, depending upon colour, alcoholic strength and residual sugar.
Explaining further, she stated that it is not as if taking red wine is bad for the health. “We are all aware of the many health benefits of red wine if consumed moderately and not in excess. Red wine may be a preventative against coronary disease and some forms of cancer because it contains a phyto-chemical known as flavonoids believed to function as anti-oxidants which prevents molecules known as free-radicals from doing cellular damage. One particular form of flavonoid, called oligomeric procyanidin, recently proved to prevent hardening of the arteries”, she emphasised.
There are also compounds in red wine called resveratrol and quercetin. Clinical and statistical evidence and laboratory studies have shown these may boost the immune system, block cancer formation, and possibly protect against heart disease and even prolong life. What is however very important is that red wine should not be taken in excess”, He added.
Researchers at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, looked at the records of 105,986 women aged 30 to 55 who completed surveys on their current drinking habits and how much they drank when they were younger. Over a period of nearly 30 years they monitored how many of the women developed breast cancer.
Their findings show that women who drank nearly four units a day were 50 per cent more at risk than those who don’t indulge in drinking at all.
Breast cancer is by far the most common form of the illness in women and statistics show that one in eight will develop it at some point in their lives. New cases are diagnosed in women every year and the majority of sufferers are over 50.
Scientists think that alcohol raises levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen which is believed to trigger the growth of tumours.
A medical practitioner, Dr Halimat Mohammed has this to say about drinking red wine. “Red wine is not a cure-all and not everyone should drink it. There are also circumstances when some people are advised to abstain from drinking alcohol because when combined with certain over-the-counter or prescription drugs it could lead to an adverse reaction. Red wine should not be taken by people with inflammations of the digestive tract, peptic ulcers, liver disease, pancreatitis, kidney or urinary infections, prostate disorders or epilepsy. Also, pre-menopausal women with a family history of breast cancer should abstain from drinking red wine including any alcohol.