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Posted on: April 5, 2019 at 4:28 pm

“How many cigarettes are there in a bottle of wine?” Ideally, you won’t find any cigarette butts in the bottom of your chardonnay, but it’s a serious question a team of UK researchers recently sought to answer.

The scientists, led by gastroenterology expert, Theresa J. Hydes, published a study in the March 28 issue of BMC Public Health journal. They note that, although the public is completely educated about the link between smoking and cancer, barely over 1 in 10 people are aware that alcohol consumption is a scientifically proven cause of throat cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and liver cancer. (1)

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Part of the problem, they write, is that just like “the tobacco industry tried to suppress information linking tobacco use and cancer … there is evidence that the alcohol industry are currently employing similar tactics” (1).

Hydes and her team set out to estimate approximately what the associated cancer risk is for moderate drinking and to compare it to smoking to help the public better understand the consequences of their alcohol consumption habits. In essence, something more relatable for the general public to understand.

They compared the average lifetime risk of cancer between non-smokers who also didn’t drink, smokers who didn’t drink, and non-smokers who did drink. The results of their mmeta-study showed that: (1)

  • One bottle of wine a week increased the risk of cancer in non-smoking men by 1% (or every 10 in 1,000)
  • One bottle of wine a week increased the risk of cancer in non-smoking women by 1.4% (or every 14 in 1,000)
  • Meanwhile, smoking 10 cigarettes a week increased the risk of cancer in men by 2.1% and 1.5% in women

The bottom line is that everyone needs to be more educated about the very real link between alcohol consumption and cancer risk. But for women especially, it’s important to keep in mind that, on a weekly basis, drinking one bottle of wine is nearly equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes for cancer risk.

Before ending with a warning to spread awareness about alcohol and cancer, Hydes notes, “Our findings are not meant to detract from the substantive cancer risks associated with smoking which remains the single largest preventable cause of cancer worldwide, and for which even very low levels of exposure are associated with an increased risk of cancer.”

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An estimated 3.5% of cancer deaths in the United States are related to alcohol. (2) Apart from being a known human carcinogen, alcohol consumption is linked to: (3)

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • liver disease
  • dementia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • addiction
  • miscarriage
  • birth defects

Granted, there has been research highlighting how certain nutrients in wine such as resveratrol can have antioxidant and heart-protective properties, you certainly have healthier ways to give your body those benefits- with food that won’t increase your likelihood of developing and possibly dying from cancer. For example:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Green tea
  • Avocados
  • Pecans
  • Goji berries
  • Kale

Related: There’s No Safe Level of Smoking: Here’s How Occasional Smoking Affects Your Health

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Emese Graham
Health Expert
Emese believes women's health, mental health, and spiritual health really matter, so she jumps at the chance to bring those conversations to light. In her spare time, Emese enjoys finding challenging workout videos on Youtube (because gyms are hard for introverts), and she's all about getting creative in the kitchen and making recipes a little different every time - who needs measuring cups?

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