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Posted: Monday, March 2, 2009 12:00 am

Alarms sounded in the mainstream press last week after a new paper was published suggesting that chances of developing breast cancer may increase with moderate drinking.

The paper, based on a “Million Women Study” in the United Kingdom, found that women over 50 years young having a drink a day increased their chance of breast cancer 1.1 percent compared with women having one or two drinks a week.

Wine industry watcher Lewis Perdue quickly raised questions, particularly regarding the researchers’ decision to throw out results from non-drinkers, assuming they were of “ill health.” Could it be that including this group would have lead to a smaller observed increase in cancer?

In any case, I think it’s fair to consider this quote in the CNN article from Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, codirector of the UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program:

"Individuals that chose to drink should do so in moderation and because they like to, rather than expecting a health benefit."

The current recommendation from The American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association for those already drinking wine is one 4 ounce glass per day for women and two glasses for men. That roughly translates into splitting a half bottle each day for the average couple.