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Study linking moderate alcohol consumption to breast cancer needs clarification

To many women, last week's much-reported news that a recent study that links moderate alcohol consumption to an increased risk of breast cancer was troubling. While the research is very real, some of the stories reporting on the study may not have gone into quite as much detail about it. AARP reports that it shouldn't scare away anybody from having a glass of wine every now and then.

The reason for the miscommunication is that many reports of the study only focused on the fact that researchers found that women who drank between three to six times a week were 15 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who do not drink. That might seem like a high figure, but when you take into consideration that women between 50 and 59 have a 2.4 percent chance of being diagnosed, and add in the increased risk, you only bump it up to 2.76 percent.

"It got a lot of people worried, but you can't just go by a headline. This needs to be put into perspective," cardiologist Nieca Goldberg told the organization.

Of course, this clarification of the study does not mean that women should drink to excess. The study found that women who had two or more drinks each day had a 51 percent higher risk than those who didn't drink, and there have been a litany of studies that have found a link between heavy and binge drinking and breast cancer.

There is also considerable research that highlights the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption (no more than one drink a day). According to WebMD, a pair of recent studies have found that it could reduce the chances of heart disease by as much as 25 percent.

"Our studies suggest that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may have some benefits in terms of reducing the risk for cardiac disease and death related to cardiac disease," researcher Susan E. Brien told the website.

In addition to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol there are plenty of other ways for you to reduce your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular ailments. One of the most effective, says the Mayo Clinic, is to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day whether it be in the form of gardening, walking the dog or regular housekeeping. Furthermore, a heart-healthy diet that includes polyunsaturated fats, fruits and vegetables is also important.

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