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Want to avoid cancer? Drink weaker wine, say scientists

Wine drinkers should switch to lower-alcohol varieties to reduce their chances of getting cancer, say scientists.

By opting for a light German Riesling (10pc) instead of a heady Australian Chardonnay (14pc), drinkers can continue to enjoy a glass or two at the same time as reducing the risk to their health.

A daily wine drinker who typically enjoys a large glass (250ml) could cut their risk of bowel cancer by 7pc by making the change.

Most people would barely notice the difference but would significantly boost their chances of avoiding the disease, scientists argue. Alcohol is known to increase the risk of several cancers including those of the breast and bowel.

Consumption has soared in recent decades and three times as much is now consumed per person as in the middle of the past century. As well as bowel cancer there is also strong evidence that switching to a lower-alcohol wine would reduce the risk of breast cancer, liver cancer, and cancers of the oesophagus, mouth, pharynx and larynx.

The reduction in risk would be of the same order as that for bowel cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said.

Realistic

The charity recommends that if people drink at all, they should limit consumption to two drinks a day for a man and one for a woman.

Dr Rachel Thompson, the WCRF's science programme manager, 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 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 but it could have a real impact on cancer risk.

"If everyone who drinks 14pc wine switched to lower-alcohol wine, it is likely many cancer cases could be prevented."

Dr Thompson said although lower-alcohol wines were more difficult to find in high-street stores, it was a lifestyle change that could make a long-term health difference.

She added: "The food and drink industry does now seem to be taking the issue more seriously. But there is still much more it should be doing. We would like to see supermarkets and off-licences make it easier for their customers to choose less unhealthy options."

The charity added that people could also reduce their cancer risk by doing the same with other alcoholic drinks.

hnews@herald.ie