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A new US study found that red and white wine increase the risk of breast cancer by the same amount, which is contrary to studies on heart disease and prostate cancer that suggest that red wine may have beneficial effects on disease risk compared to white wine.

The study was performed by Dr Polly Newcomb, head of the Cancer Prevention Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Fred Hutchinson Center in Seattle, Washington, and colleagues from other research centers in order to find out what effects red wine might have on breast cancer risk, especially because it has been singled out in other studies as being beneficial in prevention of heart disease and prostate cancer .

Although it is known that alcohol consumption increases breast-cancer risk, other studies indicated that red wine might in fact have some positive value.

The study included 6,327 women who had breast cancer and 7,558 age-matched controls who did not. All the participants were Americans aged from 20 to 69. They were asked how often they drank alcohol (red wine, white wine, spirits/liquor, and beer) and other questions relevant to breast cancer risk, including how old they were when/if they first became pregnant, whether there was any family history of breast cancer, and whether they had used hormonal replacement therapy (HRT).

The frequency of alcohol consumption and the proportion of women consuming red and white wine in both the breast cancer and the control group was the same.

The results showed there was no difference between red and white wine with respect to risk of having breast cancer. Women who had 14 or more drinks a week, regardless of type (red or white wine, spirits/liquor or beer) were 24 % more likely to have breast cancer compared with women who did not drink alcohol at all. Neither red nor white wine appeared to have any benefits.

If a woman drinks, it should be done so in moderation - no more than one drink a day, researchers suggest.

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