• By Vivien Williams

Mayo Clinic Minute: Is alcohol the new smoking?

May 3, 2019

There is no question that smoking is bad for your health. It increases your risk of many diseases, including heart disease, lung disease and many cancers. Research in the journal BMC Public Health reports that drinking one bottle of wine per week equals that of five cigarettes per week for men or 10 cigarettes per week for women.

Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, discusses some of the pros and cons of drinking alcohol.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:58) is in the downloads at the end of the post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

Is alcohol the new smoking? Is a bottle of wine or a few beers as bad as lighting up?

"We've known for years that alcohol at any dose is arrhythmogenic, which means it causes more arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. So even just a small amount will give you irregular heartbeats. And if you are prone to do that, you'll have more of them."

Dr. Kopecky says alcohol can cause health issues. But also it may have some benefits.

"It can actually have some compounds in it that'll lower blood pressure."

He says it's hard to identify the risks and benefits of alcohol because it's hard to isolate for study. People don't just drink. They usually eat at the same time.

"The point is it's not just the alcohol, but the company it keeps."

So if you choose to drink alcohol, opt for healthy foods to eat with it. And Dr. Kopecky says if you have any issues with alcohol, don't drink it.

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