Drinking a bottle of wine per week increases the risk of cancer to an equivalent rate as smoking five to 10 cigarettes a week, depending on your gender, a new study has found.
For women, drinking one bottle of wine per week increases the risk of cancer to the same extent as smoking 10 cigarettes a week. The increase is mainly due to an increased risk of breast cancer caused by drinking, according to the study published Thursday in the journal BMC Public Health.
And for men, drinking a bottle of wine a week increases the risk of cancer equivalent to smoking five cigarettes. This increase is due to the risk of cancer in parts of the body such as the bowel, liver and esophagus.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University Hospital Southampton National Health Service Foundation Trust, the University of Southampton and Bangor University, is the first to estimate the “cigarette equivalent” of alcohol, in regard to cancer risk.
In the first study of its kind, researchers compared the known dangers of smoking to that of drinking excess amounts of wine.
“It is well established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast,” lead study author Dr. Theresa Hydes, of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement.
“Yet, in contrast to smoking, this is not widely understood by the public. We hope that by using cigarettes as the comparator we could communicate this message more effectively to help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices,” she said.
But a spokeswoman from the Alcohol Partnership, which is funded primarily by the drinks industry, condemned the study as “unhelpful and confusing at a time when the public is being bombarded by contradictory warnings of risk.”
“Drinking is not the same as smoking, nor does it carry the same health risks,” said a spokesman for Diageo, which makes Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker said. “To make that comparison is misleading and will confuse people who want to enjoy alcohol in moderation.”
It’s clear too much alcohol and smoking to excess is not good for the human body.
Is the possibility of better health enough to make you drop either of these vices?