It’s National Drink Wine Day: What are the health effects?
Enjoy a glass of vino after work, it’s National Drink Wine Day! Wine consumption does have some health benefits. Moderate drinkers have lower risks for liver disease, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and some cancers.
Wine can also reduce “bad” cholesterol, or LDL, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.
Turns out, February 18 is also National Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day, so aficionados can celebrate both at the same meal.
A lot of the excitement over red wine in recent years has been around resveratrol and whether it can extend life, prevent cancer, cure Alzheimer’s — you name it. That has obscured some of the more tried-and-true health benefits of wine. Since nearly the dawn of mankind, wine has been added to drinking water to kill bacteria, or consumed as a more hygienic alternative. More recently, the antimicrobial properties of wine, especially red wine, are being studied for cavity prevention.
In the 1980s, the heart health benefits of red wine began to emerge. Numerous studies have by now found a connection between imbibing vino and lower rates of heart attack, stroke and death caused by heart disease.
“The evidence is more firmly in place for red wine preventing heart disease, diabetes and a few other vascular (conditions) compared to cancer and dementia,” said Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts.
Subsequent research revealed a twist to the happy story of red wine and healthy hearts. Other alcoholic drinks, beer and hard liquor, also seemed to provide heart benefits.
“That’s not to say that there might not be some special quality of red wine like resveratrol that could confer additional benefits,” Sesso said. At least for now, though, attribute it to the alcohol.
The story of red wine’s effect on cancer and dementia is cloudier — some studies found it increased the risks, other studies suggested a decrease. The most recent addition to the research found that people who drink red wine had a higher risk of cancers that are related to alcohol consumption, such as breast and liver. But the rub with all these studies is that people who drink red wine, or any kind of alcohol, might be different from non drinkers in other ways, such as diet, exercise level and smoking status.
Based on the research so far, it seems safe to have a glass of red wine or alcoholic beverage a day, unless you have a medical condition or a history of alcoholism, and it may even provide some heart health benefit, Sesso said. However the risks of drinking too much, such as liver disease, drunken driving and domestic violence, are all very clear, making it difficult for doctors to prescribe drinking even a small amount of red wine in the age of modern medicine.