"Because it comes at you from every direction," says Marilyn Burns. "I just do my best every day."
This South Nashville woman describes herself as a social drinker, who never has more than 3 drinks with friends.
"Can I get a margarita?" asks Burns.
But for these businesswomen, the constant contradictory studies make them tune out.
"You know I really don't think about it so much," says banker Lisa Gabbert.
There are studies which show a benefit to the heart from the compound Resveratrol found in red wine.
"I can understand the confusion because it seems like every other month there's a new report out," says St. Thomas Heart & Baptist Cardiologist Dr. Stacy Davis. "Alcohol is good. Alcohol is not good."
Heart disease is, after all, the #1 killer of women nationwide.
"At the age of 38 I had 2 heart attacks followed by a triple bypass," says heart attack survivor Lori Anne Parker.
Parker, who works at the Frist Center, probably had an underlying heart defect according to her doctors.
"I don't do things like drink a lot which would hurt my health, which woul dthen hurt my heart health," says Parker.
The American Heart Association gives specifics on the red wine guidelines for women. No more than one 4oz glass a day. Do you know how much 4oz is? Well, 4oz, for the record, is a very small glass of red wine, much smaller than most people drink, making Happy Hour not so happy after all.
"The risks for my patients tend to outweigh the benefits," says Dr. Davis.
That's coming from a heart doctor, who studies the only organ ever shown to glean some benefit from alcohol.
"You want to do what's going to give you more bang for your buck," says Dr. Davis. "What's going to give you more bang for your buck is getting your weight down, exercising, getting your blood pressure under control and cholesterol under control."
All of which can lead to heart disease. And alcohol? Well, it causes all of the above in women. That's not all. Study after study confirms the connection between drinking and breast health.
"Based on most of epidemiological studies that show that drinking 1 drink a day, defined as moderate drinking, increased the risk of breast cancer about 10-15%," says Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center Dr. Wei Zheng, Phd.
Another study out of the UK also shows just one drink a day for women increases the risk of liver, rectum, mouth, throat and esophageal cancers. The truth is when it comes to drinking, men and women are not created equal. Men produce more of the enzyme Gastric Alcohol Dehydrogenase than women, which helps men process alcohol before it leaves the stomach. For women, more alcohol exits the stomach in its original form and affects the bloodstream. The bottom line for Lori, who's already had 2 heart attacks?
"I would hate for somebody to think I'm not going to exercise and have some red wine instead," says Parker. "That would defeat the purpose. I would say if you are going to have red wine, you should take a walk too. Maybe walk twice as long."
If you really want to confuse the issue, still another study shows women can reduce their risk of storke long term by drinking, but stroke risk temporarily doubles in the first hour after drinking. The take home message: drinking can be harder on a woman's health than on a man's.
Tuesday, August 2 2011, 11:34 PM CDT
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