A Positive Research Article on Drinking Wine

We have all read the peer reviewed research papers about the increased consumption of wine and spirits during the pandemic. On mornings for recycling collection in my community, as I walk or job, I notice an increased number of empty wine bottles, beer cans and alcohol bottles being sent for recycling.

Articles about increased liver disease prevail. All negative articles about alcohol consumption and health until the July 27, 2021 publication in the Journal of Clinical Cardiology: Clinical Electrophysiology looking at the relationship between alcohol consumption versus beer or cider. Their study examined 400,000 adults and raised the idea” that for current consumers, drinking red or white wine could potentially be a safer alternative to other types of alcoholic beverages with respect to the development of atrial fibrillation. The study looked at adults in the United Kingdom Bio-Bank aged 40-69.

Those who consumed 1-7 glasses of wine per week had the lowest risk of developing atrial fibrillation -even lower than non-drinkers. For white wine the same risk applied until you reached extremely high levels of white wine intake. For beer and cider there was a direct relationship between the amount of product consumed and the increase in risk of atrial fibrillation.

This was an observational study and does not allow for concluding cause and effect. There are also differences in what the United Kingdom defines as a glass of wine and what other countries do. For example, in Austria one drink can contain up to 20 grams of alcohol. In the United States it contains 14 grams of alcohol while in the UK only 8 grams of alcohol.

The overall conclusion I derive from this study is that a small amount of wine, especially red wine, is probably not going to contribute to you developing atrial fibrillation. On the other hand, the definition of a drink in this article is probably far smaller than we pour at home from the bottles we open.

Chianti Study Refutes Wines Heart Healthy Label

ChiantiResveratrol, the antioxidant found in red wine, grapes, and dark chocolate did not increase longevity or lower the risk of cancer or heart disease in a study conducted in the Italian wine country. The study, led by Richard D. Semba, MD, MPH of the Johns Hopkins University looked at older adults in the Chianti wine making region of Italy with the top dietary intake of resveratrol as indicated by its urinary metabolites. Large consumers were no more or less likely to die over the 9 year study period as small consumers or those who abstained. The actual data showed that those in the lowest consumption range did better than others as reported in the online edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“Inflammatory markers, cardiovascular disease, and cancer all showed the same lack of a significant relationship with resveratrol levels. “The results were different than all of our theories” and hopes. Resveratrol had been hailed as a major component of red wine and dark chocolate and is supposed to be heart healthy. This has led to the growth of sales for it as a supplement. Sales in the USA exceed $30 million dollars per year despite no clinical evidence of its benefits. It is still promoted heavily by noted cardiologist and health televangelist Dr Oz. Derek Lowe, PhD, a drug researcher, doesn’t understand the popularity of the substance. “Personally, I do not see why anyone would take resveratrol supplements.” If it does have an effect it’s sure not a very robust or reproducible one.” The Aging in Chianti Study involved 783 men and women followed from 1998 until 2009. There was no significant difference in cardiovascular disease rates among those with the lowest levels of the drugs metabolite and those with the highest. There were no differences in the incidence of cancer between high consumers of red wine and modest to low consumers either.

While the study clearly did not show any benefit during the study period, critics of the study and its conclusion felt that maybe the benefits were more long term and required a higher dose of resveratrol over a longer period to see any real benefits. Once again I believe consuming dark chocolate and red wine in moderation is probably your best course. It is clear that a larger study with different concentrations of resveratrol over a longer period of time will be needed to reach a definitive conclusion. The study did not show that resveratrol was bad for you either. That being the case, individuals should enjoy their dark chocolate and red wine in moderate measured amounts because they enjoy dark chocolate and red wine.

Moderate Drinking Can Reduce Dementia, Alzheimer’s Risk

In an article in the International Business Times 08/19/2011 edition, Loyala University Medical Center researchers admit that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of developing cognitive dysfunction and Alzheimer’s type dementia.

They reviewed 143 studies, which included about 365,000 members from 19 different countries. The health benefits were seen in 14 of the 19 countries including the USA.  Moderate drinking was defined as one drink daily for women and two for men. Further clarification defines moderate intake as 1.5 ounces of spirits, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer.

It was not clear why moderate alcohol intake reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease but it is believed to be due to its anti-inflammatory effects.  Neuroinflammation which occurs in both Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias can be altered by moderate alcohol consumption. They did caution however, that heavy drinking defined as 3-5 drinks per day actually causes neuroinflammation and memory problems.  The study, published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment Journal, showed that wine consumption was a better choice to reduce the risk of dementia.

The study review showed that moderate drinking didn’t impair the cognitive functions in younger subjects aged 18 -50 and actually reduced the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in participants over the age of 50.