A Bottle of Wine = 4-5 Cigarettes?

According to a study published in BMC Public Health, consuming a bottle of wine per week is equivalent to smoking five to 10 cigarettes per week in terms of increased lifetime risk of developing cancer.

Researchers estimated the increase in the absolute risk of developing cancer associated with moderate drinking and compared it with the increase in absolute risk of developing cancer secondary to smoking.

Smoking versus drinking

The researchers used the Cancer Research UK database to calculate the possible lifetime cancer risk associated with consuming 10 units of alcohol or 10 cigarettes per week. Alcohol and tobacco attributable fractions were subtracted from lifetime general population risks of developing alcohol- and smoking-related cancers to estimate the lifetime cancer risk in those who do not drink or smoke.

Risk is heightened in women

One bottle of wine per week was associated with an increased absolute lifetime risk of cancer for non-smokers of 1.0% for men and 1.4% for women. The overall absolute increase in cancer risk for one bottle of wine per week equals five cigarettes per week for men and 10 cigarettes for women. This sex-based difference (about 50% higher for women than men) was largely driven by a heightened risk of breast cancer in women. In men, the increased cancer risk was mostly associated with gastrointestinal cancers (e.g., oropharynx, esophageal, colorectal, liver).