Breast Cancer Risk: Red Wine vs. White Wine

Breast Cancer Risk: Red Wine vs. White Wine
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Modest lifestyle changes that include the avoidance of alcohol may cut the odds of breast cancer in half, but certain grapes appear to contain natural aromatase inhibitors that may undermine the ability of breast tumors to produce their own estrogen.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

After diagnosis, women with breast cancer may cut their risk of dying nearly in half—estrogen-receptor positive; estrogen receptor negative—just by instituting simple, modest lifestyle changes: five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and just like walking 30 minutes a day, six days a week.

But, what about preventing breast cancer in the first place? If you actually follow the advice of the official dietary guidelines for cancer prevention, does it actually reduce your risk of cancer?

If you manage your weight, eat more plant foods, less animal foods, less alcohol, and breastfeed if you’re a woman, based on the largest prospective study on diet and cancer in history, you may significantly lower your risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, UADT cancer—you do not want to get cancer in your UADT, believe me. No, that basically means oral cancer, as well as lower risk for liver cancer, esophageal cancer, and all cancers combined.

Of all the recommendations, the “Eat mostly foods of plant origin” appeared the most powerful. For example, a study in the UK found that in just one year in Britain, there were 14,902 excess cases of cancer caused by something they were exposed to ten years earlier. What was that something that ended up causing thousands of cancers? “Deficient intake of fruits and vegetables.” If that was instead some chemical spill or something, causing 14,000 cancers, people would be up in arms to ban it. But, instead, when that killer carcinogen is not eating your fruit and veg, as the Brits would say, it hardly gets anyone’s attention.

What if you throw in smoking, too? Researchers created a “healthy lifestyle index” defined by four things: #1, exercise; #2, a dietary shift away from the Standard American Diet high in meat, dairy, fat, and sugar towards a more prudent dietary pattern (for instance, green and yellow vegetables, beans, fruits); #3, avoidance of tobacco; #4, avoidance of alcohol. Young, women scoring higher on those four things may cut their odds of getting breast cancer in half, and older women may cut their odds of breast cancer 80%!

We’ve covered how even light drinking can increase breast cancer risk. But, for women who refuse to eliminate alcohol, which is less carcinogenic—red wine, or white?

Well, some studies, such as the Harvard Women’s Health Study, suggest less or even no risk from red wine. And, we may have just figured out why. Remember how mushrooms were the vegetable best able to suppress the activity of aromatase—the enzyme used by breast tumors to produce their own estrogen? Well, if you run the same human placenta experiments with fruit, strawberries get the silver, but grapes get the gold.

What kind of grapes? Well, those wimpy green grapes used to make white wine didn’t work, compared to those used for making red.  Bottom line, “red wine may serve as a nutritional [aromatase inhibitor], which may ameliorate the elevated breast cancer risk associated with [the] alcohol intake [in the red wine].”

But why accept any elevated risk, by instead just eating the grapes? And, if you do, chose ones with seeds, if you can, as they may work even better.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to walknboston via flickr; and Peggy Greb, André Karwath, and Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia.  Thanks to Maxim Fetissenko, PhD, and Laurie-Marie Pisciotta for their help with Keynote!

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

After diagnosis, women with breast cancer may cut their risk of dying nearly in half—estrogen-receptor positive; estrogen receptor negative—just by instituting simple, modest lifestyle changes: five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and just like walking 30 minutes a day, six days a week.

But, what about preventing breast cancer in the first place? If you actually follow the advice of the official dietary guidelines for cancer prevention, does it actually reduce your risk of cancer?

If you manage your weight, eat more plant foods, less animal foods, less alcohol, and breastfeed if you’re a woman, based on the largest prospective study on diet and cancer in history, you may significantly lower your risk of breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, UADT cancer—you do not want to get cancer in your UADT, believe me. No, that basically means oral cancer, as well as lower risk for liver cancer, esophageal cancer, and all cancers combined.

Of all the recommendations, the “Eat mostly foods of plant origin” appeared the most powerful. For example, a study in the UK found that in just one year in Britain, there were 14,902 excess cases of cancer caused by something they were exposed to ten years earlier. What was that something that ended up causing thousands of cancers? “Deficient intake of fruits and vegetables.” If that was instead some chemical spill or something, causing 14,000 cancers, people would be up in arms to ban it. But, instead, when that killer carcinogen is not eating your fruit and veg, as the Brits would say, it hardly gets anyone’s attention.

What if you throw in smoking, too? Researchers created a “healthy lifestyle index” defined by four things: #1, exercise; #2, a dietary shift away from the Standard American Diet high in meat, dairy, fat, and sugar towards a more prudent dietary pattern (for instance, green and yellow vegetables, beans, fruits); #3, avoidance of tobacco; #4, avoidance of alcohol. Young, women scoring higher on those four things may cut their odds of getting breast cancer in half, and older women may cut their odds of breast cancer 80%!

We’ve covered how even light drinking can increase breast cancer risk. But, for women who refuse to eliminate alcohol, which is less carcinogenic—red wine, or white?

Well, some studies, such as the Harvard Women’s Health Study, suggest less or even no risk from red wine. And, we may have just figured out why. Remember how mushrooms were the vegetable best able to suppress the activity of aromatase—the enzyme used by breast tumors to produce their own estrogen? Well, if you run the same human placenta experiments with fruit, strawberries get the silver, but grapes get the gold.

What kind of grapes? Well, those wimpy green grapes used to make white wine didn’t work, compared to those used for making red.  Bottom line, “red wine may serve as a nutritional [aromatase inhibitor], which may ameliorate the elevated breast cancer risk associated with [the] alcohol intake [in the red wine].”

But why accept any elevated risk, by instead just eating the grapes? And, if you do, chose ones with seeds, if you can, as they may work even better.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to walknboston via flickr; and Peggy Greb, André Karwath, and Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia.  Thanks to Maxim Fetissenko, PhD, and Laurie-Marie Pisciotta for their help with Keynote!

Doctor's Note

My reference to the cancer risk associated with even light drinking (up to one drink per day) is explored in Breast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much is Safe?

Wasn’t there a study that found that fruits and vegetables weren’t protective against cancer, though? See my video on the EPIC Study.

For more on the aromatase story, see:

More on grapes in Fat Burning Via Flavonoids and Best Fruit Juice.

What if you already have breast cancer, though? Well, Cancer Prevention & Treatment May Be the Same Thing, but I do have been a few studies on breast cancer survival and diet:

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for more context: Breast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much is Safe? and Breast Cancer & Wine.

In 2018, I released a new series on alcohol. Check out:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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