Scientists claim weekly bottle of wine is equivalent to 10 cigarettes

By Robert Mann contact

- Last updated on GMT

Wine warning: new research claims one bottle of wine per week has an equivalent effect of smoking 10 cigarettes
Wine warning: new research claims one bottle of wine per week has an equivalent effect of smoking 10 cigarettes
Having just one bottle of wine per week increases the lifetime risk of cancer by the equivalent of smoking between five and 10 cigarettes, new research suggests.

The study, which is the first to compare the cancer risks of drinking and smoking in this way, 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 would develop cancer as a result.

This is due to the risk of cancer in parts of the body such as the bowel, liver and oesophagus.

Damning results

In addition, if 1,000 men and 1,000 women drank three bottles of wine per week throughout their lives, the report claims around 19 men and 36 women would develop cancer as a consequence.

According to the study published in the BMC Public Health journal, scientists from the University of Southampton, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and Bangor University, set out to discover how many ‘cigarettes’ there are in a bottle of wine.

The damning results revealed that, for men, drinking a bottle of wine a week increases the risk of cancer because it is the equivalent of smoking five cigarettes.

And for women, drinking one bottle of wine a week is allegedly the equivalent to the same as smoking 10 cigarettes a week – mostly due to an increased risk of breast cancer caused by drinking.

Public awareness

Dr Theresa Hydes, who worked on the study, said that by choosing cigarettes as a comparison measure, she hopes it will help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices.

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

"Yet, in contrast to smoking, this is not widely understood by the public.

"We must be absolutely clear that this study is not saying that drinking alcohol in moderation is in any way equivalent to smoking and our finds relate to 'lifetime risk' across the population."

Welcoming the findings was Susannah Brown, acting head of research interpretation at the World Cancer Research Fund.

She said: “By using a cigarette equivalent to show how alcohol affects cancer risk, it conveys the findings in a way well understood by the public and could do a lot to increase public awareness of the link between drinking alcohol and cancer."

Misleading study

However, Diageo, which makes Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, dismissed the results by labelling it "misleading" and "confusing".

“Drinking is not the same as smoking, nor does it carry the same risks,” a Diageo spokesperson exclaimed.

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

Official Government guidelines on alcohol consumption advises drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, which is, ironically, a bottle and a half of wine.

Related topics: Wine

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