This article is written in partnership with Pink Lotus Elements—they’re dedicated to safeguarding women’s health, and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
There are a lot of jokes circulating right now in moms’ groups I’m a part of. They all have one punchline: alcohol.
It’s funny/not funny.
Many of us are just trying to stay sane during a time that’s asking the seemingly impossible of us: working from home, schooling from home, keeping said home tidy, feeding its occupants, all while not leaving home…and for how long? No one knows.
Sure, many of us are using all the healthy coping tools in their toolbox right now (yoga, meditation, long walks, Rescue Remedy), but we are also looking forward to that glass of wine in the evening a little more than usual, and maybe having two glasses instead of the usual one.
That’s totally understandable! We do not need guilt trips here, on top of everything else we’re dealing with.
(Although, if it’s starting to impact your ability to function normally and be there for those who rely on you, we recommend you take stock of that. If you’re struggling with a drinking problem, reach out in the comments and we’ll help get you some help.)
We do need to be aware of how our alcohol consumption may be impacting our health and well-being. And we do need to take some simple steps to counteract the potentially negative impacts.
California-based Pink Lotus Elements is tackling the risks alcohol consumption poses, particularly to women’s health, in a new way. And they have some pretty scary/enlightening things to share about just how our “quarantwine” is affecting our health. Although, read on…there’s good news too.
Let’s start with the good: we can enjoy alcohol as part of a healthy lifestyle without putting our health at risk, but it’s important we understand just how alcohol does impact our health and well-being as women so we can take the necessary steps to manage those risks.
According to Dr. Kristi Funk, breast cancer surgeon and bestselling author of Breasts: The Owner’s Manual, it all centers on Folic Acid, or folate, which those of us who’ve had children are usually familiar with because it’s one of the first things we’re told to supplement when we become pregnant. However, the importance of folate for women’s health goes well beyond pregnancy.
Folate works alongside B6 and B12 to engineer glutathione, the most powerful of all intracellular antioxidants, which detoxifies and eliminates carcinogens.
We can find it in foods like peas, beans, nuts, spinach, collard greens, asparagus, and fortified whole wheat sources. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, high levels of serum folate led to 27 percent less breast cancer.
Great news! So we just stock up on the peas and spinach or grab a folic acid supplement off the shelves and we’re good to go, right? Not quite.
Among those in this study averaging one glass or more of alcohol a day, the drinkers who consumed the most folate from food or supplements plummeted their cancer risk by 89 percent compared to drinkers who had low folate. That’s a huge 62 percent difference!
You see, alcohol inhibits the conversion of folate into its helpful DNA-repairing form called methylfolate. Therefore, moderate drinkers (one or more drinks a day) should consider taking methylfolate (not folic acid), 800 micrograms once a day—or stop drinking so much. (I know which option I’m going for, over here. No apologies)
This is exactly why Pink Lotus Elements developed Cosmo Companion: it provides your body the defense against the negative effects of even moderate alcohol consumption. It’s specifically formulated for casual drinkers who consume alcohol regularly and is also packed with 15 other essential ingredients that improve liver function, detoxification, cell regeneration, alcohol sugar metabolism, and optimal cellular health.
“While I’m gradually eliminating alcohol from my diet, I am thrilled to be able to take this supplement before and after those occasional events in which I drink socially.”
Of all the controllable risk factors for breast cancer, none is more prevalent across diverse populations and cultures than alcohol, says Dr. Funk in her book:
Why? Alcohol increases estrogen levels (a.k.a., cancer fuel), impairs immune function, creates toxic metabolites like acetaldehyde, and inactivates folic acid, which repairs DNA when it goes awry. All of these actions are like soldiers in the oxidative stress battle, turning the tide toward free radicals and cellular damage.
Studies show that one drink a day increases breast cancer risk by 10 percent; at two drinks a day increases our risk 30 percent; three drinks a day, 40 percent…and we can add 10 percent per drink thereafter. Those are some pretty significant numbers.
How methylfolate works to protect women’s health, and the best place to get it.
Methylfolate (or folate in its active form) ensures that as your DNA replicates, it maintains its original structure without allowing mutations to occur and propagate.
So a folate deficiency could increase the incidence of cancer—not just breast cancer—when there isn’t enough methylfolate around to babysit the dividing DNA.
The chief causes of folate deficiency (which, by the way, is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world) are a low dietary intake, followed by good ol’ alcohol.
This is because alcohol decreases folate absorption from the intestines, increases its excretion in the kidneys, and interferes with the conversion of folic acid to its helpful form, methylfolate.
MTHFR, the badass sounding enzyme that turns folic acid into methylfolate, is “temporarily put to sleep” by alcohol, which in turn causes problematically low methylfolate levels. A fairly large number of people also have genetic MTHFR variations or mutations, which leave them at a 37 to 66 percent increased risk for breast cancer. So if you fall into this category, supplementation with methylfolate is essential whether or not you drink at all.
In the Iowa Women’s Health Study, over 34,000 women were followed for 13 years. An increase in breast cancer correlated to low-folate/high-alcohol intake, and interestingly, the cancers were primarily estrogen receptor-negative tumors, so folate deficiency seems even more important than the estrogen increase when it comes to alcohol.
Since our bodies can’t make folate, we have to consume it. Heat also destroys it, so folate food sources, which contain some methylfolate, have to be eaten raw: broccoli, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and asparagus.
But those of us who are moderate drinkers (averaging at least one drink a day), would be better off just going straight for the bioactive form our DNA needs.
“I had stage 2b breast cancer last year and currently in remission. I would like to live a more alcohol free life, but my hubs and I are social drinkers on occasion. I just recently turned 37 and in the past several years I haven’t been able to have more than two glasses of wine or margaritas without terrible brain fog and anxiety the following day. Since taking this product I have better energy and clarity the following day after indulging in a drink or two.”
Pink Lotus Elements has made headlines for its science-backed approach to developing supplement solutions for women, and we really love that all of the company’s products are vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO. As for Cosmo Companion, all you need to do is take it once daily (more is not better) at any time. It does not need to be taken with your happy juice. And you’re still doing your health a favor by taking it on days you don’t drink anything.
While you won’t actually feel any different when taking Cosmo Companion, and it certainly isn’t a hangover cure, you do get the peace of mind of knowing you are doing everything you can to support your health and well-being, whilst still being able to enjoy a drink…and moderate levels of sanity during lockdown.
Some final top tips from Dr. Funk’s book for reducing your risk of breast cancer:
Beta Carotene it up! Eat carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, broccoli, yellow squash, apricots, cantaloupe, and sweet red peppers.
Although all types of alcohol can reduce cardiovascular disease, decades of research correctly blame that same alcohol for causing cancers of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. However, one and only one exception to this rule has emerged from recent literature: women consuming 120 to 240 milliliters (4 to 8 ounces) a day of red wine as their sole alcohol of choice (FYI, a bottle has 750 milliliters or 25 ounces) actually show a decrease in all cancer relative to teetotalers.
Wait, what? How? Well, all other alcohol increases estrogen levels, but red wine actually behaves like an aromatase inhibitor (AI), which is a drug given to estrogen-positive breast cancer patients. Why? Because cancer cells use aromatase to actually create their own estrogen so they can fuel themselves, the sinister little beasts.
So, cheers to that red wine–caped hero in a glass! Just don’t forget to take your methylfolate >>