Wine Wednesday, how we knew thee. But it might be time to bid our regular wine evenings (and afternoons) goodbye, because the latest research on the effects of our wine night do not look promising. A new study published in the journal BMC Public Health shows that consuming one bottle of wine per week — that’s roughly four glasses — seems to increase cancer risk similarly to 10 cigarettes per week.
“We have shown moderate levels of drinking (one bottle of wine per week) is associated with a significant increased absolute lifetime risk of alcohol-related cancers in women, driven largely by breast cancer,” the study authors write. “Drinking one bottle of wine per week is associated with an increase in absolute lifetime risk of cancer equivalent to smoking ten cigarettes a week for women, and five for men.”
While tobacco and smoking have long been publicly linked to cancer risk, the alcohol-related effects on cancer has not been as widely reported.
But unlike cigarettes, the benefits of red wine have been one of its biggest advantages. Red wine has been noted to reduce inflammation and has been studied for its effect on improving heart health. The resveratrol that’s present in wine — and red wine, specifically — has been attributed to multiple health benefits, so the latest study is sure to bring some interesting responses.
But there is a bit of good news, so we can *carefully* cheers to that. The researchers did note that the findings weren’t as black and white as they may seem.
“We must be absolutely clear that this study is not saying that drinking alcohol in moderation is in any way equivalent to smoking,” says Dr. Theresa Hydes, the study’s corresponding author, in a press release.
“Our finds relate to lifetime risk across the population. At an individual level, cancer risk represented by drinking or smoking will vary and for many individuals, the impact of ten units of alcohol (one bottle of wine) or five to ten cigarettes may be very different.”
Understanding the term “absolute cancer risk” is really the key to parsing out the study information. The cancer risks that the study addresses are taken in isolation, which means it does not look at the effects as a whole. The study also did not look where the cancer was developed, how treatable it may have been, or the fact that each person’s individual reaction to drinking and smoking varies greatly.
So while we should be more cautious of the amount we consume, and giving up alcohol sure does come with benefits, it’s important to find a healthy balance for yourself.