A new study found that one glass of vino per day had the same carcinogenic effect as smoking five cigarettes per week for men and 10 for women.  

By Lauren Wicks
Updated: April 01, 2019

Resveratrol, a chemical found in grapes, as well as other antioxidants, have bolstered wine’s “heart-healthy” halo over the years, as these compounds are thought to prevent coronary artery disease (the condition that leads to heart attacks.) However, more studies are finding the cons of drinking alcohol—in any form—likely outweigh the pros. Womp womp.

The latest study on the effects of wine on our health, published yesterday in BMC Public Health, found drinking just one bottle of wine each week (that’s less than a glass each day) could have the same carcinogenic impact as smoking five cigarettes for men and 10 for women within the same time period. This equates to an increased absolute lifetime risk of 1 percent in male nonsmokers and 1.3 percent in female nonsmokers.

The researchers for this study analyzed information from the Cancer Research U.K. database on the general population’s lifetime risk of cancer, as well as how many of those could have been linked to tobacco and alcohol. Their findings showed that if 1,000 male nonsmokers and 1,000 female nonsmokers drank a bottle of wine per week, 10 extra men and 14 women could develop cancer during their lifetime.

The researchers also found drinking three bottles of wine per week—approximately three glasses per day—was equivalent to smoking about eight cigarettes per week for men and a whopping 23 cigarettes for women. This level of alcohol consumption is lower than what the CDC currently deems excessive, yet could increase men’s risk for cancer by almost two percent and women’s risk by almost five percent.

Considering reducing your alcohol intake or eliminating it altogether?

Approximately 70 percent of Americans don’t know alcohol is carcinogenic, even though the American Cancer Society has found clear links between alcohol consumption and seven types of cancer, as well as potential links to pancreatic and stomach cancer.

It’s important to note that the study’s authors wanted to clarify drinking alcohol in moderation is not equivalent to smoking in any way. Smoking kills up to half its users—about 6 million, plus another 890,000 from secondhand smoke each year, while 6.8 percent of men and 2.2 percent of women die from alcohol use each year.

However, if you currently drink more than recommended amount (that’s two drinks per day for men or one for women), it may be worth reducing your intake. And if you don’t currently drink, there’s certainly no need to start.

The bottom line: If you drink wine to reap the heart-health benefits, try incorporating heart-healthy foods such as fresh produce, unsaturated fats, and whole grains instead. You can even try one of these non-alcoholic drinks that’ll still pair perfectly with your favorite charcuterie board.