A new study published in BMC Public Health suggests that drinking one 750-milliliter bottle of wine each week is equivalent to smoking five or 10 cigarettes in terms of cancer risk. Specifically, there is a 1 percent increase in lifetime cancer risk for non-smoker males and a 1.4 percent increase for females, which equals five and 10 cigarettes, respectively.
As per KRON 4, the study is the first-ever to determine the cigarette equivalent of alcohol in terms of cancer risk.
“It is well-established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast,” said lead study author Dr. Theresa Hydes of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.
“Yet, in contrast to smoking, this is not widely understood by the public. We hope that by using cigarettes as the comparator we could communicate this message more effectively to help individuals make more informed lifestyle choices.”
Previous research suggests that the majority of Americans do not realize that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of cancer. The team behind the study set out to explore the connection between alcohol consumption and cancer risk to raise awareness.
Dr. Sarah Cate, assistant professor of breast surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who was not involved in the study, agrees that alcohol is a known carcinogen. However, she claims that the data from the current study is difficult to interpret risk from because it ignored known cancer risk factors, such as family history and external radiation exposure. Regardless, she believes that it’s important to educate the public about the dangers of alcohol.
But a spokesman for Diageo, which makes Smirnoff, Guinness, and Johnnie Walker, believes that the results are misleading.
“Drinking is not the same as smoking, nor does it carry the same health risks. To make that comparison is misleading and will confuse people who want to enjoy alcohol in moderation.”
As per 9NEWS, the risk of cancer from wine was higher for women than men, and the primary cancer risk for women consuming moderate levels of alcohol was breast cancer.
The study claims that 3.3 million people die per year due to alcohol abuse, which comprises 5.9 percent of deaths around the world. It also highlights the fact that globally, alcohol was the primary cause of death for individuals aged 15 to 49 in 2016, and that studies have linked certain cancers — such as liver, esophagus, and breast cancer — directly to alcohol.