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A Glass of Red Wine Not Beneficial for All

Tim Boyer's picture
Red Wine

The general consensus in news reports about red wine is that drinking one to two glasses of red wine a day actually benefits the heart by helping to prevent ischemic heart disease. However, a recent large scale study shows that drinking a glass of wine may not benefit many health conscious individuals after all.

Who may be ill affected from just one glass of wine a day.

Past findings that drinking a glass or two of red wine per day has proven to be a popular consensus among some health officials and the general public - especially when it comes to preventing ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Ischemic heart disease is a reduction of blood flow to the heart muscle that manifests minimally as slight chest pain to maximally as a full blown heart attack. IHD is typically due to coronary artery disease with the risk of IHD increasing significantly with age, family history, smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

However, the general consensus that drinking one to two glasses of red wine a day is beneficial was recently challenged in a large scale meta-analysis that looked at over 38,000 instances of IHD involving a little under one million study participants over a 20-year period. The purpose of the study was to quantify the relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and ischemic heart disease regarding gender and survival.

The results of the study are published in a recent issue of the scientific journal “Addiction” and tells us that the benefits of drinking a glass of red wine a day is not as clear cut as many are led to believe.

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What the researchers discovered is that when you look at people who drink one to two glasses of wine a day, that there is a wide variability in the cardio-protective effects from low to moderate drinking.

"It's complicated," says Dr. Jurgen Rehm, the director of social and epidemiological research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and co-author of the study. “While a cardio-protective association between alcohol use and ischemic heart disease exists, it cannot be assumed for all drinkers, even at low levels of intake…we see substantial variation across studies, in particular for an average consumption of one to two drinks a day,” says Dr. Rehm.”

According to the study, women in comparison to men are more prone to suffer from adverse health effects by drinking even just one glass of wine a day. This is especially relevant in light of studies associating a link between breast cancer and wine drinking.

The authors of the study conclude that a cardio-protective association between alcohol use and ischemic heart disease cannot be assumed for all drinkers and that advice by physicians on individual drinking has to take the patient’s individual risk factors for ischemic heart disease (and breast cancer) into account before recommending that drinking a glass of a red wine a day is beneficial for them.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: Addiction 2012 "The cardioprotective association of average alcohol consumption and ischaemic heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis"; Michael Roerecke, M.Sc. and Jurgen Rehm, Ph.D.



"General Consensus" is redundant and really, really poor writing. I'd expect better here.
Yes, I am aware of the "general consensus" usage debate; however, my thoughts about it is that the use of "general" clarifies the meaning of the statement, as the word "consensus" alone can be interpreted by a reader to have a meaning of truth or fact, when clearly in this instance the benefits of wine are not clearly understood to a level of being held certain by everyone. My use of "general" signals to the reader that doubt exists over the true benefits of wine--which is what the article addresses. Also, from another writing perspective, writing styles depend on the audience. I believe that general usage phrasing is more suited for typical readers than formal usage--which can appear condescending to the reader. BTW, isn't your use of "...really, really..." a bigger redundancy sin?!
Consensus on the health benefits of red wine is based on thousands of peer reviewed papers, covering a broad range of health conditions. Those who consume red wine in moderation have lower risk of Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease. This is only partly explained by associated healthy lifestyles, and not completely explained without inlcuding alcohol. Meta-analyses are limited by the quality of the data in the papers reviewed, and are not necessarily the final word. Details and references in my book "Age Gets Better with Wine."