Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

For Cancer Risk, a Bottle of Wine Equals This Many Cigarettes

Woman drinking Drinking a bottle of wine a week increases cancer risk as much as 10 cigarettes By Sam Downing| 2 hours ago
Anna Jefferson | 29 March, 2019, 21:28

But experts said that smoking carried much greater cancer risks than alcohol, for most drinkers.

"One bottle of wine per week is associated with an increased absolute lifetime cancer risk for non-smokers of 1.0 percent (men) and 1.4 percent (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).

Drinking a bottle of wine per week increases the lifetime risk of cancer by the equivalent of smoking five to 10 cigarettes, research suggests.

Dr. Richard Saitz, an addiction medicine specialist and chair of the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, said that the study's comparison makes sense. "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 continued.

A bottle of wine a week is less than one drink a day, but researchers in the United Kingdom found that drinking a bottle of wine a week raises the risk of cancer by 1 percent in men and 1.4 percent in women, equivalent to the cancer risk associated with smoking five cigarettes a week in men, 10 cigarettes a week in women.

The authors also point out that the study does not take into account other smoking or alcohol-related outcomes such as respiratory, cardiovascular or liver disease in which case the conclusions would likely be quite different.

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The health risks of smoking are common knowledge, particularly how it increases a person's risk of developing cancer.

For non-smoking women this was approximately 50% higher with an increase in absolute cancer risk of 1.4%. For them, a bottle of wine is equivalent to five cigarettes. "This study purely addresses cancer risk in isolation".

The researchers used national data from the United Kingdom on the lifetime risk of cancer in the general population as well as previously published research on the relationship between alcohol, smoking and cancer.

Dr Minouk Schoemaker, scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, who conducts research into the causes of breast cancer, said the study offered an "interesting insight" but he said the picture was not simple. "Hearing that some amount of alcohol is the equivalent of some amount of cigarettes" in terms of cancer risk, is helpful for the general public, he said. Even dietary guidelines discuss the recommended number of alcoholic drinks per day.

Quaffing up to three glasses of wine or beer a week could lower the risk of dying from any cause, and in particular cancer, according to a study by researchers at Queens University, Belfast.

A spokeswoman from the Alcohol Information Partnership in the United Kingdom - which is funded by the drinks industry - argued that the conclusions drawn from the study were "both unhelpful and confusing" to the public. This is equivalent to smoking roughly 23 cigarettes per week.

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