Drink low alcohol wine to cut cancer risk, experts say
Published 18/01/2010 | 10:11
Wine drinkers are being advised to drink lower alcohol varieties in order to cut their risk of cancer.
The World Cancer Research Fund is urging wine drinkers to consider trying 10 per cent alcohol by volume wine instead of the usual 12 per cent to 14 per cent.
People who drink a large glass of wine a day could reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer or breast cancer by seven per cent just by switching from a 14 per cent wine to a 10 per cent one, they said.
Hundreds of cases of cancer could be prevented if everyone switched to lower alcohol drinks, they said.
For every 100 people who switched, five would develop bowel cancer at some point in their lives, instead of six.
Switching would also reduce the risk of other cancers affected by alcohol such as breast, liver, throat, mouth and voicebox by a similar amount.
Around 20,000 of the 293,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed each year in Britain are thought to be caused by alcohol consumption.
The World Cancer Research Fund suggests a lower recommended daily limit that the government due to the links. The charity has said that to reduce cancer risk it is best not to drink alcohol at all but because small amounts have been shown to benefit the heart they recommend drinking no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women.
The recommended daily limit is three to four units for men and two to three for women with at least two alcohol free days a week.
Dr Rachel Thompson, Science Programme Manager for WCRF, said: “From a cancer prevention point of view it is best not to drink at all. But we have to be realistic and the fact is that many people enjoy a drink and see it as part of their social life.
“If you drink quite a lot at the moment, the best advice is to reduce the number of drinks you have.
"But if people do not want to do this, switching to a lower alcohol alternative is still something positive they can do.
"Making this change might seem quite minor do, but it could have a real impact on cancer risk. If everyone who drinks 14 per cent wine at the moment switched to lower-alcohol wine tomorrow, for example, it is likely hundreds of cancer cases a year could be prevented.
"Most wines in the supermarket these days tend to be 13 or 14 per cent, which means finding lower-alcohol alternatives can be difficult. But it is worth the effort because switching to a lower-alcohol alternative is the kind of lifestyle change that can make a real difference because it is easy to stick to in the long term.
“Of course, this does not just apply to wines. You can also reduce your cancer risk by switching from premium strength lager to weaker alternatives and this also applies to any alcoholic drink."
Lower alcohol drinks also contain fewer calories.
Dr Thompson added: “We would like to see supermarkets and off-licenses make it easier for their customers to choose less unhealthy options.”
Some supermarkets have already taken up the challenge. Tesco now sells the McGuigan Chardonnay and the De Bortoli Cosa Dolce Syrah-Dolcetto, which are both 9.5 per cent alcohol by volume.
Marks and Spencer sells the Ernst Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 2008, which is 10 per cent and a Giardini Lower Alcohol Pinot Grigio 2008, which is 9.5 per cent.
Sweeter wines tend to be weaker as less of the sugar has been turned to alcohol.