Posted on Jan 24, 2012, 6 a.m.
Red wine apparently mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels.
Drinking red wine in moderation may reduce one of the risk factors for breast cancer, providing a natural weapon to combat a major cause of death among American women. Chrisandra Shufelt, from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute (California, USA), and colleagues studied 36 women who were randomized to drink either Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay daily for almost a month, then switched to the other type of wine. Blood was collected twice each month to measure hormone levels. Researchers sought to determine whether red wine mimics the effects of aromatase inhibitors, which play a key role in managing estrogen levels. Aromatase inhibitors are currently used to treat breast cancer. The team found that chemicals in the skins 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. Concluding that: “These data suggest that red wine is a nutritional [aromatase inhibitor] and may explain the observation that red wine does not appear to increase breast cancer risk,” the study authors submit that this data challenges the widely-held belief that all types of alcohol consumption heighten the risk of developing breast cancer.
Chrisandra Shufelt, C. Noel Bairey Merz, YuChing Yang, Joan Kirschner, Donna Polk, Frank Stanczyk, et al. “Red Versus White Wine as a Nutritional Aromatase Inhibitor in Premenopausal Women.” Journal of Women's Health. December 2011.