Medicine

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

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

According to this study the cigarette equivalent of one bottle of wine per week is suggested to be the equivalent of 5 cigarettes for men and 10 cigarettes per week for women; and 3 bottles of wine per week is the equivalent to smoking 8 cigarettes per week for men and 23 cigarettes per week for women. The higher risk among women is mainly due to the link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer.

Thus, if 1,000 men and 1,000 women each drank one bottle of wine per week, around ten extra men and 14 extra women may develop cancer at some point in their life.

And the numbers of cigarettes "equivalent" to alcohol are small, when most smokers smoke many more a day.

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 the picture was not simple.

Men are in slightly less danger, with researchers finding that one bottle increases their risk by as much as five cigarettes.

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.

To put alcohol's cancer risks in perspective, the study aimed to answer the question: In terms of cancer risk, how many cigarettes are in a bottle of wine?

The risks for men were equivalent to five cigarettes per week, they added.

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"Moderate levels of drinking are in absolute terms particularly important for cancer risk in women, because they are associated with increased risk of breast cancer, which is very common (lifetime risk of 14%)".

"Gender differences result from levels of moderate drinking leading to a 0.8 percent absolute risk of breast cancer in female non-smokers".

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.

Jane Green, the Co-Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, says it's all about "context".

The guidance also says there is no "safe" level of drinking when it comes to health risk. "This study purely addresses cancer risk in isolation". Smoking causes over 4 times as many cases of cancer in the United Kingdom than alcohol, best bet if you are a smoker is to quit completely, the local stop smoking service will be happy to provide you with assistance if required.

The health risks of tobacco smoking have been indisputably communicated to the general public for several years.

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

A spokeswoman from the Alcohol Information Partnership, which is funded by the drinks industry, said: "The conclusions drawn from this study are both unhelpful and confusing at a time when the public is being bombarded by contradictory warnings of risk".


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