Nutrition Research

Alcohol and the Big C

April 3, 2017

Let’s talk booze.  Anytime I am presenting, the topic of alcohol ALWAYS comes up.  I am a quarter Italian (a strong quarter) so I get it.  I enjoy a glass of wine on days that end in “Y”.

Wine brings people together!  Sunday night family dinner = wine.  Celebrating good news = wine.  Drama with a friend = wine.  Issues with your significant other = wine.  Rose` all day.  Red wine and red soles.  Wine is officially part of our culture.  Heck!  The Fat Jewish even has his own line of rose`!  Has anyone tried that yet?  Super curious.

We love to know about wine – where it’s from, what characteristics it possesses, how many cases were produced, etc.  We also love to tout the study that indicates it is good for our heart!  Oh and let us not forget our favorite diet of all….the Mediterranean diet, which embraces wine with meals.  (Can I get an amen for resveratrol?  And now, is anyone else having a RHOC moment?!)  Well, I am here today to get real about booze.  WAIT, don’t stop reading.  I promise I am drinking wine as I am writing this.  But, it is important to know what the literature says about alcohol.

First, let me begin by being Debbie Downer.  Let’s chat serving sizes.

Wine = 5 ounces

Beer = 12 ounces

Liquor = 1.5 ounces

These are comical and depressing all at the same time.

Alcohol itself has been identified as a carcinogen. Moreover, as alcohol is broken down in the body, it forms a compound called acetaldehyde, another human carcinogen.  According to the American Institute on Cancer Research, alcohol increases the risk of at least 6 cancers.  Booze causes about 27% of esophageal cancers, 11% breast cancers and it’s associated with colorectal and liver cancers.  In the British Million Women Study, one drink a day increased women’s risk of breast cancer by 12 %, with even three to six drinks weekly posing some risk. Emerging evidence suggests that alcohol may pose a risk for other cancers, too.

Now before you go emptying your bottles, it’s important to know that there are some other key players.  Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, low fiber diet and high intake of processed meat all increase your risk.  Yes, it’s also true that more is not better.  The more you drink the more you are increasing your risk for the big C.  For people who drink 4+ drinks daily, risk of various cancers increases from 50 to 500 percent compared to nondrinkers.  Keeping alcohol to less than one or two drinks a day poses much less risk, but does not remove it.

Are you still here?  Ok, good.  Whew!  Let’s turn this train around, what do you say?  Red wine contains resveratrol and other polyphenol plant compounds, which studies can reduce cancer development. Yassss!  However, human studies have mixed results. Some studies link lower cancer risk with a Mediterranean-style diet, which traditionally includes low to moderate amounts of wine with meals. But this diet is super high in some important cancer fighting compound like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fiber just to name a few.

For the lowest cancer risk, it might be a good idea to eliminate booze.  Womp womp.  Look, you get one chance to enjoy life!  Quality of life is SO important and red wine definitely increases my quality of life.  Take home message:  try to be cognizant of your portions and weekly intake.

A Mindful Cheers,




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