A Bottle of Wine vs. 10 Cigarettes a Week: Which One Is Likely To Kill You Faster?

Alcohol Good Or Bad?

Cigarette smoking has been closely associated with cancer especially lung and bronchitis. The link between nicotine and cancer was long-established years ago. Wine though not widely known to most has the same effects. 70% of the USA population have no idea alcohol has ties to cancer. Women who drink wine are said to be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the course of their lives. So just how many cigarettes are equal to a bottle of wine?

Smoking And Drinking Alcohol

According to a study in Journal BMC Public Health, the lifetime cancer risk the body is exposed to, by a 750ml bottle of wine taken weekly is equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a week for women and 5 cigarettes for women.

Research and Findings

A British research team from three universities set out to compare drinking wine and smoking cigarettes on cancer risk in an effort to raise awareness about the relationship between alcohol and cancer.

They did lifetime risk of cancer data analysis from Cancer Research UK on a general population and also on the number of cancers linked to alcohol and smoking. In a data set of 1000 non-smoking women and 1000 non-smoking men, everyone drank a bottle of wine a week; it was observed that 14 extra women and 10 extra men were at risk of developing cancer. This number was equivalent to cancer risk stemming from a female smoking 10 cigarettes a week and a man who smokes 5 cigarettes a week.

Wine spikes cancer risk in women more than in men because of the high correlation between alcohol and breast cancer. Women who consume a glass of wine daily have a 7% higher risk of cancer than women who don’t and those who took 2 glasses were at 20% breast cancer risk. In the USA women consume 57% of total wine bottles and Americans spent about $71 billion on wine in 2018.

Because alcohol is a carcinogen, there hasn’t been a clear indication of its influence on cancer. The study based its results on cancer risk only without looking into other factors e.g. age, family history, medical history of possible previous cancer indicators, diet, and environmental exposure of subjects. However, it is still important for people to be aware of the carcinogenic effects of wine which are rarely considered.


There have been researches that link moderate alcohol consumption to health benefits especially red wine, which may explain why most people would not understand the correlation between wine and the increased cancer risk.  Studies have in the past highlighted the usefulness of antioxidants found in red wine. They are popular for helping the heart pump more blood and oxidizing the blood. Also, moderate intake of all kinds of alcohol reduces the formation of blood clots and raises healthy cholesterol.

This information has made most people think that a glass of wine or two actually leans more on the healthy side. A Harvard University study revealed that it is difficult to isolate red wine as some take it bearing in mind that it’s a healthy drink or they just take it for heart health effects other than paying attention to the drink itself.


The study in no way compares smoking cigarettes to moderate wine consumption as smoking ultimately kills 2/3 of its users and is responsible for 80% of deaths from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Every individual case varies and the impact of ten cigarettes or a bottle of wine will be different as well.


Before you pour and drain a glass of wine you may want to consider the potential risk so do it in moderation. A standard drink in the US is 5 ounces of wine while beer, malt, and liquor are 12, 9, and 1.5 ounces consecutively. If not able to quit alcohol intake should be limited to 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men according to the American Cancer Society.




Drinking Alcohol Can Raise Cancer Risk. How Much Is Too Much?

What Are the Risk Factors for Lung Cancer?

Shao, Chuan, et al. “Smoking and Glioma Risk: Evidence From a Meta-Analysis of 25 Observational Studies.” Medicine, vol. 95, no. 2, 2016.

Owens, Michelle A., et al. “Birth Desires and Intentions of Women Diagnosed with a Meningioma.” Journal of Neurosurgery, vol. 122, no. 5, 2015, pp. 1151–1156.



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