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Posted: Wed, 20 November 2019 10:02

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Moderate Wine Drinking may Reduce Lung Disease

Nov 20: Not much research has been done on the relationship of wine and respiratory health but a recent study conducted by Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and Bristol’s University of the West of England, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests that moderate alcohol consumption may significantly lower the risk of pulmonary disease in men

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a respiratory disease that restricts airflow into and out of the lungs, making breathing difficult. The illness advances over time, increasingly diminishing pulmonary performance, some times even fatal. The leading factors of COPD are smoking, asthma and environmental factors (like the current pollution in Delhi). Symptoms of COPD include a cough that produces a lot of mucus, shortness of breath especially during physical activity, wheezing and tightness in the chest.

According to the Study, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the fourth leading cause in the United Kingdom in 2016.

The study involved over 44,000 men between the ages of 45 to 79. Researchers began tracking the men in 1998 and collected data till 2014 or when they were diagnosed with COPD. The study took into account the subjects' health, age, weight, body mass index, level of education, economic class and various other factors.

The median age of the participants was 60 years. The subjects included 24.4 percent smokers, 38.5 percent ex-smokers and 35.8 percent non-smokers. Participants were also asked how much they drank per week. The researchers defined 1 standard drink as 12 grams of ethanol, approximately 150 mL (the standard glass in India) of wine (alcohol content was not mentioned in the study but usually it is taken at 12.5-13 percent). The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommends 14 gms as a standard glass of wine.

The study found that moderate drinkers had a lower incidence of COPD than both abstainers and heavy drinkers. In fact, the individuals who didn't consume alcohol had a 21 percent higher incidence of the disease than individuals who drank moderately, roughly 7 to 14 drinks per week. Heavy drinkers-those consuming more than 20 drinks per week, had a 34 percent higher incidence of COPD than moderate drinkers.

The researchers were careful to make sure they adjusted their results to take into account possible confounding factors. The data revealed that wine drinkers are more likely to have higher income as opposed to liquor drinkers. Liquor drinkers are also more likely to be smokers. Besides, those who consumed one or more glasses of wine per week tended to have a college education. Income and smoking are both factors that affect health outcome and the incidence of COPD.

Even after adjusting for these confounding factors, the researchers still found that moderate drinkers had lower risk factors for COPD than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.

"We can hypothesize that the protective association for moderate alcohol consumption, especially beer and wine consumption, relates to the antioxidant impact of Polyphenols- the anti oxidants present in these alcoholic beverages," according to the Report.  The researchers had no information on other COPD causes like chemical fumes, pollution, etc.  Besides, they could not say conclusively that moderate drinking was the only factor in these positive outcomes.

As always, they recommend further research on the antioxidant qualities of wine and beer to reinforce their findings. Meanwhile, delWine continues to recommend daily moderate consumption of 2 glasses for men, with a possible abstinence for 1-2 days during the week.

Subhash Arora

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