Health Care

How many cigarettes in a bottle of wine?

How many cigarettes in a bottle of wine?”

If the quantity of wine is upped to three bottles per week the risk of cancer jumps to 1.9 percent (men) and 3.6 percent (women).

"Our study describes the percentage increase of the risk of cancer within the United Kingdom population associated with different levels of alcohol consumption and is the only study to provide a "cigarette equivalent" in terms of harm", explains Theresa Hydes, corresponding author of the study, in a recent press release.

For women, drinking one bottle of wine per week increases the risk of cancer to the same extent as smoking 10 cigarettes a week, mostly due to an increased risk of breast cancer caused by drinking, according to the study published Thursday in the journal BMC Public Health.

"The authors estimate that lifetime risk is around 1% higher for men and women who drink a bottle of wine a week, or who smoke five to 10 cigarettes a week, than for those who neither smoke nor drink".

In women, alcohol intake was link to increased risk of breast cancer and in men, it was linked to cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and liver.

"The overall picture of cancer risk is enormously complex and nuanced, so it's important to keep in mind that this new study is subject to a number of assumptions", she said.

"We hope by using cigarettes as the comparator we could communicate this message more effectively to help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices".

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Drinking half a bottle of wine a night carries the same cancer risk as smoking up to three cigarettes a day, a study estimates. The study only considered cancer risk, and not the risks of other health conditions, such as heart disease. For example, a 2017 survey from the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that 70 percent of Americans didn't know that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for cancer. Indeed, studies in both the USA and United Kingdom have found that many people aren't aware of alcohol's link to cancer.

"And for many individuals, the impact of ten units of alcohol (one bottle of wine) or five to ten cigarettes may be very different". After all, 1 percent or so might not seem so startling when you consider lifetime risk for men and women in the United Kingdom already stands at 50 percent.

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?

"Our estimation of a cigarette equivalent for alcohol provides a useful measure for communicating possible cancer risks that exploits successful historical messaging on smoking", said Dr Hydes. It highlights that even low levels of drinking can increase the risk of cancer.

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".

"Viewing alcohol drinking in the same light as cigarette smoking may well result in a decrease in consumption and its related harms". That's about six pints of beer, seven glasses of wine or 14 shots of liquor. This is equivalent to smoking roughly 23 cigarettes per week.

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