Nutrition Diva answers a reader's question about the alcohol/cancer connection.
Q. I just read your episode on breast cancer and diet, where you state that we should drink moderately or not at all. However, I like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, a practice that is actually recommended in the Mediterranean diet. Do you consider a daily glass of wine to be a healthy habit or a risk?
A. This is a tricky one. As I talked about in my episode on alcohol, moderate alcohol consumption does seem to offer some health benefits. People who drink one or two drinks a day live longer, on average, than teetotalers, mostly because of the beneficial effects on heart health.
At the same time, even moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to an increase in breast cancer risk. In trying to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks, I think you need to step back and look at the big picture. If you have other risk factors for breast cancer, such as being overweight and sedentary or having a family history of the disease, you might choose to forego the nightly glass of wine rather than add one more risk factor into that column.
If, on the other hand, none of those other risk factors apply to you, then the benefits might well outweigh the small risk. If there’s any question in your mind, it would be a good topic to discuss with your doctor the next time you see her.