(CBS Local) — Drinking a bottle of wine per week increases the risk of cancer by the equivalent of smoking five to 10 cigarettes, depending on your gender, a new study has found.
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.
For men, drinking a bottle of wine a week increases the risk of cancer equivalent to smoking five cigarettes. This is due to the risk of cancer in parts of the body such as the bowel, liver and esophagus.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University Hospital Southampton National Health Service Foundation Trust, Bangor University and University of Southampton, is the first to estimate the “cigarette equivalent” of alcohol, with regard to cancer risk.
“It is well established that heavy drinking is linked to cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, gullet, bowel, liver and breast,” lead study author Dr. Theresa Hydes, of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement.
“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,” she continued.
A spokeswoman from the Alcohol Information Partnership, which is funded by the drinks industry, condemned the study as “unhelpful and confusing at a time when the public is being bombarded by contradictory warnings of risk.”
“Drinking is not the same as smoking, nor does it carry the same health risks,” said a spokesman for Diageo, which makes Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker. “To make that comparison is misleading and will confuse people who want to enjoy alcohol in moderation.”