Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Wine, Beer, Tea May Slow Breast Cancer

Don't Toast Yet: Alcohol May Pose Risks to Older Women
WebMD Health News

April 20, 2004 -- Wine, beer, and tea appear to slow breast cancer growth, new research shows. It's more evidence that plant-based foods (or drinks) can positively affect health.

Grapes, grains, and tea leaves -- the main ingredients in these drinks -- contain phenols, natural compounds that have been shown to have protective effects against heart disease, cancer, viruses, and allergies. Phenols appear to protect cells, tissues, and arteries against the damaging effects of free radicals in the bloodstream. Free radicals are the by-products of cell processes that can damage cells.

However, drinking alcohol for health purposes is controversial -- especially for postmenopausal women. Regular, moderate amounts of alcohol have been shown to increase a woman's risk of breast cancer by affecting female hormone levels. Since postmenopausal women's bodies make less estrogen and progesterone, by drinking alcohol and altering the balance of hormones further, they may expose their breast cells to higher levels of estrogen. This may trigger the estrogen-sensitive breast cells to become cancerous.

In the Petri Dish

In this study, researchers set out to examine whether compounds in these drinks could have breast cancer-fighting properties. In petri dishes, they first grew human breast cancer cells -- then individually exposed them to phenols from red wine, beer, and tea.

All three phenol compounds significantly affected breast cancer cell growth -- as early as 24 hours after exposure to the cancer cells, reports researcher Sandra Pinheiro-Silva, with the University of Porto in Portugal.

Phenols in all three drinks -- wine, beer, and tea -- markedly protected DNA from damage, which also causes cells to become cancerous.

Women are not advised to increase their alcohol intake to prevent breast cancer. More studies are necessary before any claim like that can be made.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow