Sunday 23 October 2016

Why that occasional glass of red is really not good for you

Nicola Harley and Jane Kirby

Published 08/01/2016 | 08:44

Red wine can be good for you claims researchers
Red wine can be good for you claims researchers

That occasional glass of red wine might not be as innocent as previously thought, according to a major new study on the effects of alcohol.

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Previous research has lauded the number of antioxidants in red wine, saying the drink could cut the risk of a heart attack and prevent memory loss.

However, a major new report is expected to conclude that red wine is bad for your health.

A landmark report by Britain’s chief medical officer Sally Davies, due to be published today, destroys the long-held belief that red wine can cut the risk of cancer, heart disease and memory loss when drunk in moderation.


It warns that there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption, and drinking even a small amount may in fact increase the risk of some cancers.

These risks “start from any level of regular drinking and rise with the amount being drunk”.

Even drinking at low levels is linked to cancers of the lip, oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus and breast.

At higher levels, there is an increased risk of bowel and liver cancer.

The study shows that, compared with non-drinkers,

women who drink two units a day on a regular basis have a 16pc increased chance of developing breast cancer and dying from it.

Those who regularly consume five units a day have a 40pc increased risk.

For every 1,000 women who do not drink, 109 will develop breast cancer.

This rises to 126 women for those who drink 14 units or less per week and 153 for those who drink 14 to 35 units a week.

Among men, for cirrhosis of the liver, those who regularly drink two units a day have a 57pc increased risk of dying from the disease compared with non-drinkers.

On drinking during preg-

nancy, the new guidance removes the previous clause that said that if women did choose to drink, they should drink

no more than one to two

units of alcohol once or twice a week.

The new report includes guidelines that recommend not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week.

More controversially, it says pregnant women should not drink at all as a precautionary measure.

“Despite little evidence of harm from low levels of drinking, it is not possible to say that such drinking carries no risks of harm to the foetus at all,” the report states.


“Women who find out they are pregnant after already having drunk during early pregnancy should avoid further drinking, but should be aware that it is unlikely in most cases that their baby has been affected.”

Sally Davis added: “Drinking any level of alcohol regularly carries a health risk for anyone, but if men and women limit their intake to no more than 14 units a week it keeps the risk of illness like cancer and liver disease low.

“I want pregnant women to be very clear that they should avoid alcohol as a precaution.

“Although the risk of harm to the baby is low if they have drunk small amounts of alcohol before becoming aware of the pregnancy, there is no ‘safe’ level of alcohol to drink when you are pregnant.”

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