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Wine, beer or spirits: Which one leads to a longer life?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Wine drinkers are believed to live longer, but a group of researchers contend there haven’t been quality studies that can pinpoint whether it’s the wine itself that contributes to longevity.

Compared to people who drink other alcoholic beverages, wine consumers are shown in studies to have lower risk of heart disease and overall mortality.

But a group of physicians and scientists from Boston University School of Medicine, Institute on Lifestyle & Health say there are too many confounding factors to support one alcoholic beverage over another for reducing health risks.

What they concluded is that research about the health benefits of alcohol may be comparing people; not wine, beer or spirits.

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One of the reviewers said, “…it is the type of alcoholic beverage which is consumed most frequently in a population which exerts the clearest protective effect.

For example, in France it is moderate wine consumption and in Germany moderate beer consumption associated with the healthiest outcomes.

Wine consumers in a customary non-wine drinking country like Denmark may be especially different from the general population.

The reviewer adds it’s a challenge for epidemiologists to determine if wine helps people live longer, even when attempting to adjust for other lifestyle factors.

Wine and beer have beneficial compounds known as polyphenols that could cut the risk of heart disease – but the authors of the critique say whether drinking wine is any better for health and longevity, compared to beer or other spirits remains inconclusive.

Image credit: Morguefile