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Although it has been pointed out that wine may contain beneficial substances such as polyphenols, the consumption of this drink can suppose greater health risks that outweigh the possible benefits.
Wine, like any alcoholic beverage, increases the risk of cancer, even when alcohol intake is mild or moderate. Alcohol is a carcinogen. “All types of alcoholic beverages, including red wine, are linked to cancer”States the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2020, alcohol use was associated with 741,000 new registered cancer cases worldwide, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Alcohol can increase the risk of some of the most common cancers diagnosed in the United States, such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
Alcohol and breast cancer in women
Alcohol can increase estrogen levels in the blood, which is a sex hormone linked to breast cancer risk.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society notes that compared to women who do not drink alcohol, those who drink 1 alcoholic drink a day have a 7% to 10% increased risk in risk, while women who drink 2 to 3 drinks a day have about a 20% higher risk than those who do not drink alcohol.
Alcohol and colorectal cancer
Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer. The evidence is stronger in men than women, but studies have found the link in both genders. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in the United States.
Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of colon and rectal cancers compared to no alcohol consumption.
A pooled analysis of eight cohort studies from North America and Europe found an increased risk of colorectal cancer, 45% for colon cancer and 49% for rectal cancer with a regular high alcohol intake (≥45 g) of three or more alcoholic beverages per day.
There are several ways that alcohol could increase your risk of cancer. Drinking alcohol can cause oxidative stress in cells and cause damage to their interior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) point out that “alcohol can affect the normal functions of the cells in your body, causing them to grow out of control and become a cancerous tumor.”
The National Cancer Institute cautions that the more you drink, the greater the risk.
Alcohol and different types of cancer
In addition to colorectal and breast cancer, drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, and liver. Evidence is accumulating that alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and cancers of the prostate and pancreas.
Alternatives to obtain beneficial compounds from wine
You can get polyphenols (antioxidant compounds) from wine without drinking alcohol. The Harvard Nutrition Source notes that dealcoholized wine preserves polyphenol content. It also indicates that “increasing your intake of one to two daily servings of tea, coffee, berries, onions or apples provides a much higher amount of polyphenols than drinking an extra glass of red wine.”
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