Think red wine is good for your health? Think again

Red wine’s supposed health benefits have been rubbished by British government experts rewriting the rule book on alcohol consumption, according to reports.

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

In the first overhaul of alcohol guidelines for two decades, the UK’s chief medical officers have said no level of regular drinking is without risks to health.

The new guidance sweeps away recommendations made in 1995 and takes account of new evidence on the increased risk of developing cancer from drinking as well as the harm that comes from binge-drinking.

Men should also consume no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, down from the previous 21 units, bringing them into line with the recommendations for women of no more than 14 units a week.

People are also being advised to have several booze-free days a week.

For those who do drink up to 14 units a week, the new advice says people should spread their drinking across three days or more.

Think red wine is good for your health? Think again

When drinking on a single occasion, the chief medical officers say people should limit the total amount of alcohol they drink.

The new guidance says evidence that alcohol — such as red wine — is beneficial for health “is considered less strong than it was”.

Only women aged 55 and over may benefit from the protective effect of drinking on heart health.

A report informing the new guidance says the risks of getting cancer “starts 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.

Modelling for the study shows that, compared with non-drinkers, women who drink two units a day on a regular basis have a 16% increased of developing breast cancer and dying from it.

Those who regularly consume five units a day have a 40% 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 women 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 57% increased risk of dying from the disease compared with non-drinkers.

Among non-drinking men, 64 in every 1,000 will develop bowel cancer and this stays the same for those drinking 14 units or less per week, but rises to 85 for those drinking 14 to 35 units per week.


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