Drinking a bottle of wine a week (less than one drink a day) is equivalent to smoking 5 to 10 cigarettes in terms of the absolute increase in cancer risk, according to a study in BMC Public Health.
Using health survey and lifetime-cancer-risk data from the U.K., researchers report that among men who didn't smoke, one bottle of wine per week increased the absolute risk for lifetime cancer by 1%. For women, it was 1.4%.
Additionally, drinking a bottle of wine per week was equivalent to smoking five cigarettes a week for men and ten for women in terms of cancer risk. The gender gap widened with more alcohol consumed, largely because of an increase in breast cancer risk. For instance, three bottles of wine equated to eight cigarettes a week for men and 23 for women.
The authors conclude: "These findings highlight moderate levels of drinking as an important public health issue for women and identify a need to promote ... awareness."