Put a Cork in It: Drinking a Bottle of Wine Per Week Is as Bad as Smoking 10 Cigarettes, Researchers Say
If you think a glass of wine a few nights a week can’t be that bad for your health, consider that it could be the healthy equivalent of smoking five to 10 cigarettes. That’s according to a new study published in the journal BMC Public Health, in which researchers looked at how one type of vice that causes cancer—smoking—compared with another.
The research focused on the absolute lifetime risk of drinking one bottle of wine a week. Absolute risk, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is how likely a person is to develop a condition over their entire life. So for example, on average, American men have a 12% absolute risk of developing prostate cancer, meaning 12 out of 100 will develop the cancer, and 88 out of 100 men will not.
In the case of drinking a bottle of wine every week, non-smoking men’s absolute risk increased 1%, or roughly the equivalent of smoking five cigarettes. In non-smoking women, the absolute risk rose 1.4%, the equivalent of smoking 10 cigarettes, with a 0.8% absolute risk of breast cancer. In other words, depending on an individual’s other risk factors and lifestyle choices related to their likelihood of developing cancer, drinking that much wine could further elevate their risk rate.
The link between cancer and using tobacco products and smoking is relatively well understood, but when it comes to drinking, the study authors noted that the risks of even somewhat moderate alcohol consumption are often a little less obvious to the public.
But that doesn’t mean that drinking alcohol doesn’t have its drawbacks. The National Cancer Institute notes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists the consumption of alcohol as a known human carcinogen and accordingly, it is linked to various cancers including those of the breast, colon, esophagus, and liver.