Two theories address risks of alcohol and breast cancer

People's Pharmacy

April 06, 2003|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun; King Features Syndicate

I love a glass of wine with dinner now and again. My doctor has said this is fine and might even reduce my risk of heart disease. What has me concerned, however, is a report that I read about alcohol and breast cancer. Is it true that drinking wine or other alcohol would increase my chance of breast cancer?

Alcohol in any form might increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. One theory is that alcohol raises levels of estrogen circulating in the blood. Exposure to excess estrogen promotes breast cancer.

Another theory is that alcohol interferes with the action of folic acid. A diet rich in folic acid substantially lowers a woman's risk of breast cancer, especially among women who consume alcohol. Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute last month shows that women who drink can reduce their risk almost 89 percent by getting adequate folate and vitamin B-6.

This past year has been the first in my memory that I haven't suffered from periodic bouts of depression. The only thing I've been doing differently is taking fish oil. Imagine my delight when I read your latest article on that very subject.

There is no way to prove that fish oil is responsible for your improved mood. Never-theless, an article in the Archives of General Psych-iatry last year demonstrated that 1 gram of fish oil daily reduced symptoms of depression in people who had not responded to standard drug therapy.

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