Half-bottle of wine a night 'as bad as three cigarettes'

Desiree Burns
March 29, 2019

In fact, the risk of cancer from chugging three bottles of wine each week, or 10 large glasses, is much higher.

According to WDIV, the study was conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom, where the moderate level of drinking for men and women is 14 units of alcohol.

The researchers - from the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Bangor University and University of Southampton - estimated that if 1,000 non-smoking men and 1,000 non-smoking women each drank one bottle of wine per week across their lifetime, around 10 men and 14 women could develop cancer as a result.

The BMC Public Health study says the 10 cigarettes is the mark for women, while for men it is five cigarettes.

"There are a wide variety of genetic and lifestyle factors that can contribute to an increased risk of cancer and the study itself is clear that drinking in moderation is not equivalent to smoking", they said.

In contrast the health risks (particularly cancer risks) associated with consuming alcohol are less-well understood, and it is generally perceived by the general public as being comparatively less harmful than smoking.

"The overall picture of cancer risk is enormously complex and nuanced, so it's important to keep in mind that this new study is subject to a number of assumptions", she said.

"The authors estimate that lifetime cancer risk is around 1% higher for men and women who drink a bottle of wine a week, or who smoke five to 10 cigarettes a week, than for those who neither smoke nor drink".

Smoking is also far more hazardous than alcohol in relation to a range of other diseases.

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"Smoking kills up to two thirds of its users, and cancer is just one of the many serious health consequences".

Dr Minouk Schoemaker, scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, who conducts research into the causes of breast cancer, said the study offered an "interesting insight" but he said the picture was not simple. For men, one bottle has the equivalent risk of smoking five cigarettes each week.

And if the amount of wine consumed is increased to three bottles per week (about half a bottle per day), the figures rise to around 36 in 1,000 women and 19 in 1,000 men.

"Our finds relate to lifestyle risk across the population".

Saitz noted that there's been little discussion of the cancer risks tied to alcohol, even though alcohol is a known carcinogen.

The risks for men were equivalent to five cigarettes per week, they added.

The UK researchers said this was a good way of communicating the health risks of moderate drinking.

"If smokers are anxious about their health, the best thing they can do is quit smoking". This risk appeared to be linked to breast cancers in 55% of cases.

The research follows a further study released previous year which found that people who enjoy the odd alcoholic drink are less likely to suffer a premature death than those who don't drink at all.

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