Drinking alcohol: Health benefit or risk?

An apple a day may no longer keep the doctor away... but a glass of red wine might.

"The Mayo study suggests something that we've known about for quite some time," said Texas Oncology Breast Specialist Dr. John Coscia. "Moderate drinking lowers cardiovascular risk of having heart attacks for instance."

But before you break out the bubbly, consider this: another recent study suggests a link between alcohol and breast cancer.

"For the first time," said Dr. Coscia, "it's been suggested that even low levels of alcohol increase a woman's chance of getting breast cancer. The study regarding breast cancer makes no differentiation between whiskey, wine or beer", he added.

That study, conducted on more than 100,000 U.S. nurses over a period of 30 years, suggested drinking three to six alcoholic beverages a week increased a predisposed woman's breast cancer risk by 15 percent.

"You've got pros and cons of consuming alcohol just as we have pros and cons about doing most things in life," said Dr. Coscia. "The study does not prove that drinking alcohol causes breast cancer, it does suggest that it's a contributing factor."

That means, drinking can help and hurt you at the same time.

"To some degree, yes, it is a matter of choosing which benefits you want," said Dr. Coscia. "I think rather than asking a person to give up something completely, it's just as St. Paul said 'in all things moderation'."

So -- to drink, or not to drink?

"That's the way life goes is that everything we take has certain risk involved with it", added Dr. Coscia.

The choice is yours.

T he study relating red wine to heart health was published in the journal Cell Metabolism while the other one suggesting a link between alcohol and breast cancer can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.