Drink a glass of wine for a longer life chaps!

October 01, 2017

The researchers from the Wageningen University and National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in Bilthoven, have found that the light intake of alcohol is associated with a lower rate of cardiovascular death and death from all causes.

This link applies more so to wine than spirits and beer and is based on less than one glass per day.

Lead author Martinette T. Streppel says their study showed that long-term, light alcohol intake among middle-aged men was associated not only with lower cardiovascular and all-cause death risk, but also with longer life expectancy at age 50.

Streppel says long-term light wine consumption is associated with a further protective effect when compared to that of light-to-moderate alcohol intake of other types.

The study involved 1,373 men born between 1900 and 1920 who were surveyed in detail about alcohol consumption seven times over a 40 year period.

The men were all from Zutphen, an industrial town in the eastern part of the Netherlands, and were followed until death or until the final survey taken among survivors in mid-2000.

The surveys included questions on drinking habits, dietary habits, body mass index, smoking habits and the prevalence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer and the statistics on alcohol consumption were adjusted to account for other risk factors.

The researchers found that long-term, light alcohol intake of less than or equal to 20 grams per day (1 glass of alcoholic beverage contains 10 grams of alcohol, 1 ounce = ~30 mL of alcoholic beverage) compared to no alcohol intake was associated with a 36 percent lower relative risk of all-cause death and a 34 lower relative risk of cardiovascular death.

The average long-term daily intake of the men throughout the 40-year study was six grams based on any alcohol intake of more than zero and up to 20 grams.

The long-term average intake of six grams of alcohol is equal to one four-ounce beer, one two-ounce glass of wine or one one-ounce glass of spirits, daily.

When the researchers looked at just the wine consumption, the associated risk reduction was greater.

Men who drank on average half a glass, or 1.5 ounces, of wine per day, over a long period, had a 40 percent lower rate of all-cause death and a 48 percent lower incidence of cardiovascular death, compared to the non-wine drinkers.

The researchers say that life expectancy was 3.8 years higher in those men who drank wine compared to those who did not drink alcoholic beverages and the life expectancy of wine users was more than two years longer than users of other alcoholic beverages.

Streppel suggests that light alcohol intake may increase the levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or a reduction in blood clotting, due to an inhibition of platelet aggregation.

Red wine consumption may have an additional health benefit because the polyphenolic compounds contained in the wine may prevent the build-up of fatty tissue in the arteries that can result in stroke or heart attack.

Streppel says the cardio-protective effects of alcohol and wine only apply to light alcohol consumption in middle-aged men.

Heavy alcohol consumption may cause accidents and diseases such as cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, and the researchers say as alcohol can be addictive, starting to drink alcohol because of its positive health benefits is not advisable.

The team presented their findings at the American Heart Association's 47th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention.

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