Brussels, 8 December 2021 – Ahead of the vote on the European Parliament’s own-initiative report in the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), CEEV, the European Wine Sector, reiterates the importance for all policies to be science- and evidence-based. CEEV calls on the European Parliament to reconsider the statement in the draft BECA report that there is “no safe level of alcohol consumption”. There is no scientific data to support an increased risk of cancer when wine is consumed in moderation, with meals, as part of Mediterranean diet and as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Cancer is a multi-factorial disease and cancer risk factors must be assessed in the context of cultural, drinking, eating and lifestyle patterns. Scientific evidence indicates that drinking wine in moderation, with a meal, as part of a Mediterranean-style diet can contribute to greater life expectancy and a lower incidence of major illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
The assumption that there is “no safe level” is misleading and simplistic as it fails to consider drinking patterns and other lifestyle factors. And it is not only misleading, but also counterproductive, as the moderate consumption of wine, particularly as part of the Mediterranean diet and as part of a healthy lifestyles, is associated with greater longevity and the prevention of disease. The “no safe level” assumption is based on a single study – Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study published by The Lancet in 2018 – which has been severely criticized by the scientific community because for its analytical flaws. It is a modelling study based on assumptions and which does not take into consideration lifestyle, does not present all existing scientific evidence and consequently, cannot be the sole basis for drawing conclusions on alcohol consumption and cancer risk.
The European wine sector is committed to continue promoting responsible wine consumption and to reduce excessive and irresponsible drinking. CEEV supports the EU’s Beating Cancer Plan and its overall goal to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. But the emphasis must be squarely on harmful consumption, as the vast majority of European and international evidence shows a clear correlation between moderate consumption as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle and positive health outcomes.
Finally, we call on the European Parliament to avoid political expediency and recognise that more taxes, marketing restrictions and health warnings are poor substitutes for policies that tackle the root causes of harmful drinking. As Europeans, we should be proud of our gastronomic culture, of which wine is an inextricable component. Our art de vivre is about enjoyment of a great variety of foods, including wine in moderation if desired, in a convivial setting. Promoting this way of life is far preferable to simplistic and ultimately ineffective regulatory solutions.
Download: CEEV Brief on Wine consumption and Cancer Risk (2021-12-07)
Note to Editors
- Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV – www.ceev.eu) represents the wine companies in the industry and trade in the European Union: still wines, aromatised wines, sparkling wines, liqueur wines and other vine products. It brings together 24 national organisations and its members produce and market the vast majority of quality European wines, with and without a geographical indication, and account for over 90% of European wine exports.
- To consult all relevant scientific evidence, see Wine Information Council scientific document: ‘Wine consumption in the context of a healthy lifestyle and cancer risk’.
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