A Bottle of Wine Per Week Equals the Cancer Risk of Smoking 5–10 Cigarettes, Study Says

By Li Yen, Epoch Times
June 19, 2019 Updated: June 19, 2019

Wine, in particular, red wine, has long been touted as heart healthy—it is said to prevent blood clots and reduces blood vessel inflammation if consumed in moderation. So, is drinking a glass of wine every day supposedly good for our health? Surprisingly, a recent study published in the journal BMC Public Health says otherwise.

Researchers at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Bangor University, and the University of Southampton conducted a study to determine the risk of getting cancer by drinking moderate levels of alcohol and compared it to the risk of getting cancer by smoking cigarettes.

“We aimed to answer the question: Purely in terms of cancer risk—that is, looking at cancer in isolation from other harms—how many cigarettes are there in a bottle of wine?” Dr. Theresa Hydes, a clinical fellow in hepatology at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust,  and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

Illustration – Shutterstock | SeventyFour

Dr. Hydes and her colleagues discovered that downing a bottle of wine—10 units—each week has the same cancer-causing effect as smoking five cigarettes per week for men and 10 cigarettes for women.

The absolute lifetime cancer risk associated with drinking one bottle of wine each week is 1 percent for non-smoking men and 1.4 percent for non-smoking women. In other words, if 1,000 non-smoking men and 1,000 non-smoking women each drank one bottle of wine weekly, approximately 10 men and 14 women might end up with cancer at any point during their lifetime.

The findings show that moderate levels of drinking lead to “a 0.8 percent absolute risk of breast cancer in female non-smokers.”

Meanwhile, the risk of getting cancer from drinking three bottles of wine each week—approximately 10 large glasses or half a bottle a day—is much higher. It increases the absolute lifetime cancer risk by 1.9 percent in men and 3.6 percent in women, or 19 in 1,000 men and 36 in 1,000 women.

Consuming three bottles of wine per week is the same as smoking roughly eight cigarettes each week for men and 23 cigarettes for women, the study says.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Georgii Shipin 

“Our study describes the percentage increase of the risk of cancer within the UK population associated with different levels of alcohol consumption, and is the only study to provide a ‘cigarette equivalent’ in terms of harm,” Dr. Hydes said.

However, Dr. Hydes emphasized the study “is not saying that drinking alcohol in moderation is in any way equivalent to smoking,” and the findings relate to lifetime cancer risk across the population.

“At an individual level, cancer risk represented by drinking or smoking will vary and for many individuals, the impact of ten units of alcohol (one bottle of wine) or five to ten cigarettes may be very different,” she added.

New research directly compares cancer risks associated with smoking and moderate alcohol intake. Prompting the question, do risks of alcohol consumption need to be better communicated?http://bit.ly/2FTOe6q

BMC စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၉၊ ဧပြီ ၃၊ ဗုဒ္ဓဟူးနေ့

The study highlights that the harmful use of alcohol causes around 3.3 million deaths—or 5.9 percent of all deaths worldwide—every year. Moreover, in 2016, alcohol was the leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 49 globally.

Alcohol use has been linked with cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, colorectum, liver, and breast.

“It is well established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast,” Dr. Hydes said.

However, 70 percent of Americans did not recognize alcohol as a cancer-causing factor, according to a 2017 poll by the American Society for Clinical Oncology.

Professor Mark Bellis, director of Policy, Research and International Development at Public Health Wales, the corresponding author, said, as per Health in Wales: “For many years clear health messages on every advert for cigarettes and every packet sold made the public aware that they are a major cause of cancer. We are yet to see any equivalent for alcohol, so most people drink with little or no knowledge about its cancer-causing effects.”

“Many people may be surprised that a woman drinking about half a bottle of wine each night carries a similar cancer risk to one with a smoking habit of more than 20 cigarettes per week,” Professor Bellis continued.

As alcohol consumption is generally perceived by the public to be comparatively less harmful than smoking, the researchers hope that “by using cigarettes as the comparator we could communicate this message more effectively to help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices,” Dr. Hydes said.

If you are a problem drinker in the United States and wish to escape the loop of drinking daily, call the Alcohol Abuse Hotlines—1-877-734-6839.