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A Glass of Wine a Day May Keep This Vital Organ Healthy

A glass of wine a day may help keep kidneys healthy

Moderate wine consumption may help keep your kidneys healthy, new research suggests.

Not only that, but those who already have kidney disease may benefit from an occasional glass of wine as well.

Study author Dr. Tapan Mehta, a renal fellow at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center, and his colleagues studied data from the 2003 to 2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination, which included nearly 6,000 people. About 1,000 of those had chronic kidney disease (CKD). The researchers examined whether moderate drinking could help those with CKD lower their risk of cardiovascular disease, and whether it could help those with healthy kidneys keep them healthy.

“Those [with healthy kidneys] who drank less than one glass of wine a day had a 37 percent lower risk of having chronic kidney disease than those who drank no wine,” Mehta said.

"Those with chronic kidney disease who drank less than one glass a day had a 29 percent lower risk of cardiovascular events [than those who drank no wine]," he added.

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Mehta, who presented his findings Wednesday at a National Kidney Foundation meeting in Las Vegas, said it wasn’t clear from the study whether red wine is better than white for kidney health. Participants were only asked if they drank wine and how much. However, previous studies have linked red wine to heart health.

While the study made the association between wine drinking and kidney health, Mehta said the researchers could not “make any firm cause and effect conclusion.” He also said he wasn’t exactly sure why wine would be linked to kidney health, although moderate drinking has been linked to lower levels of protein in the urine. In people who have kidney disease, higher levels of protein in the urine are linked with an increased risk of kidney disease progression.

Mehta and his team also emphasized moderate wine consumption, saying there weren’t enough people in the study who regularly drank two glasses or more a day to determine the effects of drinking more wine.

“Excess alcohol consumption has definitely been shown to have negative effects on kidney function,” said Thomas Manley, director of scientific activities at the National Kidney Foundation.

“Alcohol can also worsen hypertension, a major cause of chronic kidney disease, so those with poorly controlled hypertension should definitely limit the amount of alcohol they consume. It's also important to consider the nutritional contents of the various alcoholic drinks to be sure they comply with the prescribed renal diet,” he added.

[Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr]