Last week Danish researchers presented more evidence to support the idea that light to moderate wine consumption could reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The study found that it is specifically wine--rather than beer or hard liquor--that has the greatest potential benefit in preventing disease and death.
The research team examined the drinking habits of over 13,000 men and 11,500 women who participated in health studies between 1964 and 1995. The participants were surveyed to establish weekly intake levels of beer, wine and spirits, as well as smoking status, physical activity levels, educational levels, and weight and height. Death rates were calculated for the study period. Moderate beer and spirit consumption had only a small effect on death from all causes, while those who engaged in light to moderate wine drinking had a significantly lower risk of death from cancer and heart disease than those who did not drink wine, the researchers reported.
However, the report also noted that even though wine drinkers had a lower risk of death from all causes than did drinkers of beer and liquor, the rate of such risks rose for all drinkers--regardless of whether or not they included wine in their intake--as the overall amount of alcohol consumed increased. The protective effect may be the flavonoids and antioxidants found specifically in wine--but absent in beer and liquor. One caution: it may also prove to be the associated lifestyle choices made by wine drinkers, particularly in terms of diet, that impact on the observed health benefits of wine drinking.
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