Q: “How much alcohol should I drink? I’ve heard alcohol is both a risk for breast cancer in women, yet is beneficial for heart disease?”
Margaret Butler, via email
A: Accredited Practising Dietitian Zoe Wilson responds:
“You’re right, having up to one drink of alcohol a day for women and two a day for men (particularly if it’s red wine) is thought to be beneficial to heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
On the other hand though, there’s an increased risk of many cancers, including breast cancer, with drinking any alcohol. And, unfortunately, the more you drink, the higher your risk. So, the Cancer Council recommends you avoid, or at least limit alcohol, to reduce your risk.
If you have a strong family history or previous medical history of breast cancer, it’s probably best to avoid alcohol altogether.
If you’re interested in decreasing your risk of heart disease there are other ways, apart from drinking alcohol, that you can do this.
Making exercise a part of your daily routine, not smoking (or quitting if you do), eating a heart-healthy diet filled mainly with unprocessed foods like fruit and vegies, oily fish and wholegrains, along with maintaining a healthy weight, are your best defences against cancer and heart disease. I recommend discussing the risks and benefits with your GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian who knows your current health and your medical history.”