Drinking Red or White Wine Boosts Breast Cancer Risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Red wine has many beneficial compounds that promote health. Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center find that neither red wine nor white wine can offer women protection from breast cancer. Drinking red and white wine increases a woman’s chances of breast cancer.

Author of the study, Polly Newcomb, Ph.D., M.P.H., head of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center says, "We were interested in teasing out red wine's effects on breast-cancer risk. There is reason to suspect that red wine might have beneficial effects based on previous studies of heart disease and prostate cancer. The general evidence is that alcohol consumption overall increases breast-cancer risk, but the other studies made us wonder whether red wine might in fact have some positive value."

The study showed that women should limit their consumption of alcohol, and that neither red nor white wines have no benefits when it comes to reducing breast cancer risk. More than 14 alcoholic beverages per week increase a woman’s chance of breast cancer, regardless of type of alcohol consumed.


"If a woman drinks, she should do so in moderation – no more than one drink a day. And if a woman chooses red wine, she should do so because she likes the taste, not because she thinks it may reduce her risk of breast cancer”, says Newcomb.

The researchers looked at medical history of 6,327 women with breast cancer, comparing to 7,558 age-matched controls to reach their study conclusions.

Previous studies show that drinking alcohol contributes to breast cancer. Red wine is shown to have beneficial effects on overall health. The new study reveals that drinking more than one glass of alcohol daily boosts a women’s chance of developing breast cancer, and the risk of breast cancer is increased in women who drink either red or white wine.

Newcomb et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.2009; 18: 1007-1010