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Is Wine Healthier than other Alcoholic Beverages

Posted: Saturday, 24 December 2011 13:00

Is Wine Healthier than other Alcoholic Beverages

Dec 24: Wine consumers are considered to have higher levels of education and income and have healthier diets that keeps them healthier with lower mortality rate according a study based on the 20-year follow up of a group of older Americans, which did however confirm a lower mortality risk for alcohol consumers than for teetotalers.

Wine drinkers, have been shown to have higher levels of education and income, are known to consume a healthier diet, are more physically active and have other personality traits that are associated with better healthy life, especially in comparison with spirits drinkers. (the finding of wine drinkers having higher income would certainly not be applicable in India where the higher income only changes the colour of the Label-from Red, Black to Double Black, to Green, Yellow and the ultimate Blue-editor).

However, epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent in showing that, after adjustment for all associated lifestyle factors, consumers of wine have lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality than do consumers of other beverages, says a report about the study in Medical Express.

A study based on the long-term follow up of a group of older Americans for 20 years by Holahan CJ, Schutte KK, Brennan PL, North RJ, Holahah CK, Moos BS, Moos RH in Boston University Medical Center has concluded that the associated lifestyle habits and environmental factors of wine consumers largely explained their better health outcomes.

However, reviewers at the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, an independent international body that keeps track of the effects of alcohol, were concerned about some of the methodological approaches used, and believed that the data presented in the paper were inadequate to support such a conclusion. This was a small study, had only a single estimate of alcohol intake (at baseline but not throughout 20 years of follow up), and the authors might have over-adjusted for large differences in lifestyle factors between what they termed as "low-wine" and "high-wine" consumers. The study did confirm a lower mortality risk for alcohol consumers than for non-drinkers.

Experimental studies have clearly indicated that the polyphenols and other constituents that are present in wine and some beers have independent protective effects against most cardiovascular risk factors. Whether or not such advantages are seen among moderate drinkers of wine (or beer) in epidemiologic studies is difficult to determine, as comparisons are not being made between wine, beer, and spirits but between humans who consume one or other such beverage. In almost all populations, drinkers of a specific beverage differ in many ways other than just the type of beverage they consume.

More information can be accessed in the J Stud Alcohol Drug 2012; 73: 80. For the detailed critique of this paper by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, go to or click on

Forum will be happy to respond to questions from specialists regarding emerging research on alcohol and health and will offer an independent opinion in context with other research on the subject.  Contact Professor R Curtis Ellison: , who has been directly involved in several studies on wine and health for decades or Helena Conibear:, both members of International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research. Incidentally, the Forum does not receive any funds for its operations, as all members volunteer their services. 


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