Drinking a bottle of wine a week has same cancer risk as smoking upto 10 cigarettes: Study
Scientists who conducted the study said heavy drinking is linked to various cancers, and using cigarettes as the comparator could communicate the message more effectively
Consuming one bottle of wine every week raises the risk of cancer by the same amount as smoking 10 cigarettes in the same period, a study says.
Scientists were able to compare the known perils of smoking tobacco to that of drinking alcohol in the first study of its kind, Daily Mail reports.
The study was carried out by researchers at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Bangor University and University of Southampton.
According to their findings, the "cigarette equivalent" of one bottle of wine consumed in a week is roughly five cigarettes for men and ten for women during the same period. Furthermore, drinking three bottles of red or white wine each week significantly raises the risk of cancer.
Dr. Theresa Hydes and her team of researchers estimated that 10 in 1,000 men would develop cancer at some point in their lives if they down one bottle of wine per week. According to the study published in the journal BioMedCental Public Health, the ratio increases to 14 out of 1,000 for women.
While the risk of breast cancer was greatest for women who drink, men were more likely to get gastrointestinal cancers. That said, the risk was considerably higher for both men and women who consumed more than or equal to three bottles of wine per week. The recommended amount is less than half of that figure.
If such volumes are consumed, the study found that 19 out of 1,000 men and 36 out of 1,000 women would eventually develop cancer. Dr. Hydes and her team estimated that this carries the same risk of the disease as smoking 8 cigarettes a week for men and 23 a week for women.
"We must be absolutely clear that this study is not saying that drinking alcohol in moderation is in any way equivalent to smoking," Dr. Hydes said.
"Our finds relate to lifetime 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."
According to the lead author, adults could be encouraged to cut down on booze if they were presented with calculated comparisons between the risks of alcohol and smoking.
"It is well established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast," she said. "Yet, in contrast to smoking, this is not widely understood by the public. We hope by using cigarettes as the comparator we could communicate this message more effectively to help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices."
The data sets used by researchers were acquired from official statistic bodies used by nations in the UK, including Office of National Statistics, as well as Cancer Research UK. During the study, scientists were able to estimate the risk of cancer caused by smoking and alcohol by analyzing the proportion of deaths that could be attributed to each vice respectively.
Consuming more than the recommended amount of not more than 14 units a week on a regular basis is harmful to one's well being, per the NHS, and can lead to increased risks of liver disease, cancer, and heart disease.
A bottle of wine contains around 10 units while a large glass of wine holds three units. Meanwhile, a pint of beer is a little more than 2 units.