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Being Aware and Well by Lisa Mecray Rogers

Welcome to October! Believe it? Me neither. The leaves are changing, the breezes are getting cooler…and bears are coming to visit (well not often I hope!).

As you know, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although we are all quite aware of this terrible disease, many of us unfortunately know it too closely either having a friend or a family member or even yourself having personal experience. Given I write weekly on wine and chocolate, I thought it was important to bring out some findings regarding these enjoyable activities for many women.

Let’s talk about wine. It’s good to know what the current viewpoints are but more importantly to talk to your health care provider to make informed choices about whether or not to drink alcohol as there are some benefits and risks to consider.

The following points have been pulled from The American Cancer Society,, Susan G. Komen Organization and other reputable sources.

Did you know?

- Drinking low to moderate amounts of alcohol may lower the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and death

- Research shows that drinking alcoholic beverages -- beer, wine, and liquor -- increases a woman's risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer

- The more estrogen that women are exposed to over a lifetime, the higher the risk may be for breast cancer

Alcohol can change the way a woman's body metabolizes estrogen (how estrogen works in the body), causing blood estrogen levels to rise. Estrogen levels are higher in women who drink alcohol than in non-drinkers. These higher estrogen levels may in turn, increase the risk of breast cancer

- Drinking alcohol can reduce blood levels of the vitamin folic acid. Folic acid plays a role in copying and repairing DNA

Getting enough folic acid (often called folate on nutrition labels) may help reduce the extra breast cancer risk linked to drinking alcohol. Not all studies show that folic acid reduces this extra risk

- Some findings suggest women who drink alcohol after they are diagnosed with breast cancer have an increased risk of recurrence. However, other studies have shown no difference in recurrence between survivors who drink alcohol in moderation (less than one drink a day for women) and survivors who are non-drinkers

- Drinking less alcohol may be an important way for many women to lower their risk of breast cancer

- Red wine may serve as a nutritional aromatase inhibitor (AI) that prevents the conversion of androgens to estrogen, thus lowering a woman's risk for breast cancer

This small study shows chemicals in the skins and seeds of red grapes slightly lowered estrogen levels while elevating testosterone in premenopausal women who each drank eight ounces of red wine -- just under two glasses (eight ounces) -- daily for about a month. White grapes or white wine does not have the same effect (study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, published in Journal of Women’s Health)

Many questions continue to surround the role of alcohol and particularly red wine in our general health and in types of cancers, including breast cancer. And scientists are continuing to explore in order to help us lead healthier and longer lives. Remember to talk to your health care provider to make informed choices that are best for you and those you love.

If you've decided to make a change in your life regarding alcohol and wine enjoyment, there are ways to do so without sacrificing the unwind-with-a-drink ritual, parties and other get-togethers. Mocktails are the answer! In the spirit of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I feel obligated to pass on a few recipes previously compiled by Dr. Beth DuPree, breast surgeon and medical director for Holy Redeemer’s Breast Health Program in Philadelphia.

Enjoy and be well!

~Lisa Mecray Rogers, award-winning Master Chocolatier and Founder of Luxx Chocolat® xquisite artisan chocolate, ChocoVin Chocolate & Wine Tastings® and Luxx Academy du Chocolat offering classes with adults in mind, Ridgewood resident, recognized as one of 2014 and 2013 Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America. Luxx Chocolat offers unique handcrafted works of art. Nothing artificial, no preservatives, not mass produced.

To learn more about the effects of alcohol, including wine, in general health and breast cancer. see below: