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Women's Health

Moderate Drinking Appears to Raise Levels of Cancer Hormone

20 years, 5 months ago

9396  0
Posted on Dec 07, 2003, 9 a.m. By Bill Freeman

Recent study results have revealed that women who drink between one and two units of alcohol each day have higher blood levels of leptin, a hormone that has been linked to cancer. Leptin promotes the growth of a number of different tissues, and scientists are concerned that higher-than-normal levels of the hormone could increase the likelihood of uncontrolled cell growth, thus also increasing their risk of cancer.

Recent study results have revealed that women who drink between one and two units of alcohol each day have higher blood levels of leptin, a hormone that has been linked to cancer. Leptin promotes the growth of a number of different tissues, and scientists are concerned that higher-than-normal levels of the hormone could increase the likelihood of uncontrolled cell growth, thus also increasing their risk of cancer. Dr Mark J Roth and colleagues at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland asked 53 healthy, postmenopausal women to drink 0, 1, or 2 alcoholic drinks each day for a period of eight weeks. Results showed that women who drank one and two units of alcohol each day had 7% and 9%, respectively, more leptin in their blood than women who drank no alcohol during the study. Leptin has also been linked to other disorders, such as infectious and autoimmune diseases. Increased levels of leptin are thought to raise the risk of autoimmune disorders, while low leptin levels are thought to increase a person's susceptibility to infectious disease. Thus, the findings suggest that women who are moderate drinkers may be at higher risk of developing an autoimmune disease, but at lower risk of catching an infectious disease. Roth says that further research is needed. 

SOURCE/REFERENCE: J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003;95:1722-1725.

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