Study: Drinking 1 bottle wine per week as bad as smoking 5 to 10 cigarettes for cancer risk


We all know smoking leads to a higher risk of cancer, but what about drinking wine in moderation?

A new study found that drinking one 750-milliliter bottle of wine per week carries the same cancer risk as smoking five to ten cigarettes, depending on your gender.

The research, which was published in the journal BMC Public Health compared the risks of smoking to drinking too much wine. 

One bottle of wine per week is associated with an increased absolute lifetime cancer risk for non-smokers of 1.0% (men) and 1.4% (women). The overall absolute increase in cancer risk for one bottle of wine per week equals that of five (men) or ten cigarettes per week (women), the study concluded. 

The research is the first of its kind to estimate the cigarette equivalent of alcohol with regard to cancer risk. 

“It is well-established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast,” said lead study author Dr. Theresa Hydes, of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. 

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, Hydes continued.

According to a 2017 survey from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, approximately 70 percent of Americans did not recognize drinking alcohol as a risk factor for cancer. 

To raise public awareness, a research team from the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Bangor University and the University of Southampton set out to estimate the risk of developing cancer as a result of drinking moderate levels of alcohol. 

To do this, the team analyzed data on the cancer risks to the general population and the number of cancers in the population that could be linked to tobacco and alcohol. 

Alcohol is a known carcinogen. This study highlights the risk associated with alcohol consumption, Dr. Sarah Cate, assistant professor of breast surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai told MarketWatch. “It is difficult to extrapolate the exact risk because the study did not examine known risk factors for cancer such as family history of cancers and other carcinogens such as external radiation exposure,” she added. “However, it is important for the public to note the carcinogenic effects of alcohol which are largely underestimated and publicized.”

Cate did not work on the study, which has been condemned by many in the alcohol industry. 

“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. “To make that comparison is misleading and will confuse people who want to enjoy alcohol in moderation.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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