When I was young, to differentiate myself from so many other suburban youth, I entered into my “Straight Edge” phase, marked by an adherence to no alcohol or drugs, among other things. The movement was popularized by the punk group Minor Threat, a key influence from my youth.
However, now that I’m older, but none the wiser, I drink wine and the occasional beer, with a celebratory cocktail once in a blue moon. Over the years, there have been many studies related to alcohol and wine (remember the French Paradox? No? You’re probably too young.). Most have shown at least a minimal connection between moderate wine consumption and a variety of health benefits. Most of the benefits seem to be derived from drinking red wine, though white wine and beer are sometimes included as lowly stepchildren. Hard alcohol seems to include no benefits, beyond a lack of a beer belly being formed.
So why should this matter to you? As a runner, cyclist, walker, or swimmer,, you are damaging your body on a weekly, sometimes a daily basis. Sun, wind, exercise, and diet all contribute to the damage done. Recovery is becoming more discussed as we all realize the importance to let our bodies repair themselves.
I’ve recently done some research into what, today, cutting-edge science believes. Basically, no one knows. That being said, I did find some more recent studies that have me believing that continued moderate wine drinking (both red and white and the occasional rosé) is good for me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
- Wine drinkers are at lower risk for all-cause mortality than non-wine drinkers. Light drinkers who avoid wine have a 10% reduced risk of all-cause mortality; those who include wine have a 34% reduced risk. Light to moderate wine consumption (1-21 glasses a week) reduces mortality from all causes, coronary heart disease and cancer. Consuming more than 22 alcoholic drinks a week (excluding wine) is associated with a 63% increased risk of cancer; if consumption includes wine the risk drops to 24%. Consuming more than 21 beer or spirit drinks a week is associated with an increased risk of mortality. (Reference: M Gronbaek et al. Type of alcohol consumed and mortality from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cancer. Annals of Internal Medicine 2000 133: 411-419.)
(Note to Jamoosh – make sure you stay
under the 22 beers per week!)
- Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in NHANES-1. (Note: Macular degeneration is a loss of vision and yes, the study title is quite a mouthful.) Moderate wine consumption is associated with decreased odds of developing AMD. Wine alone or in combination with beer (OR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55-0.79) or liquor (OR 0.74; 95% CI 0.63-0.86), dominated the negative association observed between AMD and alcohol type. (Reference: J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jan;46(1):1-7.)
- Moderate wine consumption protects against hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage – this is one of the studies that pointed out that this health benefit was not differentiated for white versus red wines, good to know. Also, this does NOT refer to drinking the product some of used in our youth to bleach our hair blonde. (Reference: Mutagenesis (1997) 12 (4): 289-296.)
- The Possible Implication of trans-Resveratrol (t-RESV) in the Cardioprotective Effects of Long-Term Moderate Wine Consumption - the results obtained in this work suggest that t-RESV could play an important role in the cardioprotective effects induced by the long-term moderate wine consumption. Also, anything with trans is funny to me. (Reference: Molecular Pharmacology February 1, 2002 vol. 61 no. 2 294-302.)
So there you have it – next time someone asks if you should really be having that second glass of wine, say of course, and cite the references!