For years we have been hearing that drinking red wine in moderation - that is about a glass a night - is good for you. I embraced that research as I developed a taste for good wine. In fact, one of my favourite weekend activities is wine tasting and recently even went grape picking at a local wine farm.
Yesterday I heard about a new piece of research that more than 2 glasses of wine per week increased women’s chances of developing breast and other cancers. The research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute followed over 1 million UK women (a reasonable sample size) for 7 – 8 years. The findings showed that through moderate drinking approximately 15 additional cancers per 1000 women were developed.
The Guardian article suggests that the findings from the study are reliable factoring in certain lifestyle factors like smoking, exercise and the Pill as well as body weight. Naturally, this begs the question, what will I do?
We as adults living in the developed world are armed with such a huge amount of information on how best we can lead healthy lives that the choices are paralysing. With so many studies regularly contradicting each other, it makes it impossible to know what to do. With this latest research, my first thought is that there is already a new study on the way debunking this one. While that is probable and we will most likely never know for sure the impacts of alcohol on our bodies, we can make a choice on how to live.
Oh, apparently this isn’t new anyway, with another study showing the same thing in 2002. Interestingly, this one suggests that below 60, the greatest risk for women is breast cancer so alcohol should be avoided up until that age, when the likelihood of heart attack soars. At the point, the protective effect of alcohol against heart disease means moderate intake can be beneficial.
So what do we choose? I’m curious to know if this research will change your habits. Is it worth taking the risk for that glass of wine each evening? Is this likely to decrease your consumption down to 1-2 units (about 100mL) of alcohol per week? Or are you about to email Oxford Uni and tell them exactly where they can put their studies?