Researchers at the nonprofit institution found that “chemicals in the skin and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone among premenopausal women who drank eight ounces of red wine nightly for about a month,” according to a press release. The study was published online in the Journal of Women’s Health.
The findings challenge other studies that have shown drinking all types of alcohol raises a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. Last year, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that drinking three to six glasses of wine every week can slightly increase the risk of breast cancer. Doctors say alcohol increases the body’s estrogen levels, encouraging cancer cells to grow.
Before women start uncorking a bottle of red wine, researchers noted that large scale studies are needed to gauge the safety and effectiveness of drinking red wine.
Co-author Glenn D. Braunstein said that until larger studies are done, he does not recommend non-drinkers begin drinking red wine.
However, women who do drink wine may want to consider switching to red. “There are chemicals in red grape skin and red grape seeds that are not found in white grapes that may decrease breast cancer risk,” said Braunstein, vice president for Clinical Innovation and the James R. Klinenberg, MD, Chair in Medicine.
For the study, 36 women drank either cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay daily for nearly a month. Then, they switched to the other kind of wine. Twice a month, researchers measured their hormone levels through blood samples.
Their goal was to determine “whether red wine mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels,” according to the press release. “Investigators said the change in hormone patterns suggested that red wine may stem the growth of cancer cells, as has been shown in test tube studies.”
Sources: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center press release, Journal of the American Medical Association
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