A breast cancer charity, which raises money to find a cure for the disease, has enraged support groups after it asked people to buy wine cases despite knowing the increased risk of alcohol on the cancer.
The Breast Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) has sent emails to supporters promoting an offer by Vintage Wines and Spirits, where they are offered 100 dollars off cases of Vavasour Rose while donating 40 dollars from every sale to the trust.
The trust is also sponsored by Moet and Chandon, which supplies alcohol for fundraising events.
Many studies have shown that drinking alcohol dramatically increases the risk of getting breast cancer.
However, trust chief executive, Alison Taylor, downplayed the links between alcohol and breast cancer.
"There's a lot of information about a lot of things that are supposed to have an impact on breast cancer... we've had a relationship with the company for a while in terms of supporting our events so we didn't see that it was contrary to where we stood," The NZPA quoted him as saying.
Even John Harman, the trust's medical adviser, surgeon, also downplayed the links, and claimed that alcohol was one of 200 possible risk factors and the major factors were "age and sex".
But researcher Sue Claridge, of the Breast Cancer Network, was taken aback by the BCRT's promotion.
"I can't believe they aren't aware of the links, that would suggest an ignorance that defies belief really... the other option is that in the face of an opportunity to make money, they've decided that money is more important," she said.
There are studies claiming that drinking as little as a glass or two of wine a day can increase a woman's breast cancer risk by up to 50 percent.
And according to Claridge, the wine promotion was a classic case of "pink washing", where companies which sell products potentially contributing to breast cancer steer away from their cause for marketing purposes.
She said the BCRT was focused solely on finding a cure its stated aim is to do so within a decade but ignored prevention messages.
Even the NZ Cancer Society is against BCRT and is hoping to advise cancer groups to drop their association with liquor companies.
Dalton Kelly, chief executive NZCS, said it was time to "seriously address" the issue of alcohol sponsorship.
"There is more and more evidence coming through internationally about the link between alcohol and cancer. It's a repeat of how things were 15 years ago with an enormous amount of tobacco company sponsorship in the charity market today that just doesn't happen," he said.
He said that some of the society's events have been sponsored by alcohol companies and profits from wine sales had gone to Daffodil Day fundraising, but this won't continue for a long time now.
"We certainly don't want to be promoting anything that might increase the incidence of cancer. In tough economic times the charity dollar is absolutely vital to us, but our main mission is the prevention of cancer and that's far, far more important than the dollar value," he added.
In his opinion, the BCRT's promotion was also worrying because of the increasing incidence of binge drinking by young women. He thinks that alcohol consumption was one area where women could do something to lower their risk.