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Red Vs White Wine – What should women be drinking?

It’s a Sunday afternoon at the park, the sun is shining and my wife is sipping her glass of Verdelho. Nothing could be better, however is this helpful in reducing her risk of breast cancer?

Breast cancer has been shown to develop as a result of excess oestrogen. Oestrogen results from the conversion of androgens such as testosterone to oestrogen. Aromatase Inhibitors prevent the conversion of androgens to oestrogen and it’s thought this may play a role in breast cancer development

A new study looked at the effect of both red and white wine on Aromatase Inhibitors. 36 pre-menopausal women participated in this cross-over study to assess if there were any differences between red wine and white wine. Subjects consumed 240mL of red wine for a month, followed by white wine (or vice versa).

They found that red wine was associated with significant effects on some aspects of oestrogen metabolism. This included higher free testosterone and luteinizing hormone, but there were no significant differences in oestrogen levels.

The problem with the study was it didn’t take into account the timing of the menstrual cycle, which will affect oestrogen levels.

So should you be drinking red wine instead of white? The short answer is that the evidence is not quite ready to say. There have been other studies linking the health benefits of red wine, particulary antioxidants like resveratrol, however this isn’t conclusive.

Reference: Shufelt C, Bairey Merz CN, Yang YC, Kirschner J, Polk D, Stanczyk F, Paul-Labrador M, Braunstein GD. Red versus white wine as a nutritional aromatase inhibitor in premenopausal women. J Women's Health, 2011;DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2011.3001

29 Feb 2012

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