Wine and Health
The link between wine and health has always been a major topic for the media. An episode of 60 Minutes broadcast in the United States in the early 1990s about the French Paradox did wonders for the US wine industry, with millions of Americans delighted to hear that all they had to do to protect their heart was to drink more red wine.
And in the UK, a similar effect was caused by Roger Corder’s book The Wine Diet, which convinced many that red wine, in particular, does us a lot of good.
But sadly, it is not as simple as that.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that wine consumption can lead to a wide variety of conditions, including dementia, depression, and cancer.
Of course, everyone knows that excessive alcohol consumption can be fatal, and while we would never seek to trivialise this important research – or, for that matter, the seriousness of the conditions listed below – such contradictory evidence makes it impossible for those who drink wine within reasonable limits to know what the long-term effects on their health will be.
And until incontrovertible medical proof exists that wine should be approached with extreme caution, we should – and we will – carry on drinking.
To get an idea of how the media has reported the the health benefits - and dangers - of wine over the years, see our Wine and Health chart below.
Chemicals in red wine could help prevent breast, colon and prostate cancer. A new pill made with compounds found in red wine may help protect against tumours, scientists believe. More...
French scientists claim that people are 168% more likely to develop cancer if they drink even a small amount of wine every day – a claim that outraged winemakers across the country More...
|Lung Cancer||Red wine, as well as the oak barrels it is aged in, both help protect against the risk of lung cancer, says research from the US and Chile. More...|
|Breast Cancer||Resveratrol, a chemical found in grape skins, may halt the progress of breast cancer. More...||There is a lot of research linking wine consumption with breast cancer, but a lack of clarity in the results. One survey claims that women who drink two glasses a day are 60% more likely to develop breast cancer; another says that just one glasses raises the risk by a mere 6%. More...|
A study in the US showed that just 1% of wine drinkers had polyps which may trigger bowel cancer, compared with 12% of teetotalers and 18% of beer drinkers. More...
|Just a glass of wine a day raises the risk of bowel cancer, after a survey of more than 500,000 people. More...|
The risk of oesophageal cancer is cut by more than 50% if you drink wine. More...
|Drinking has been linked to an increase in cases of oesophageal cancer. More...|
|Colon cancer||A small glass of red wine each day can protect against colon cancer, which kills more than 500,000 people worldwide each year More...|
|Heart Disease||People who drink up to 30 units of alcohol a week are less likely to die of a heart attack More...||But if you drink more than a glass, all that hard work is undone. More...|
|Appendicitis||The anti-inflammatory properties found in the antioxidants of red wine help lessen the effects of appendicitis. More...|
Dutch courage? A few glasses of wine give you more than just extra confidence in the pub and in the bedroom: the effect goes deeper than that. More...
|Alcohol may lead to a more fulfilling sex life, but with impotence an unfortunate side effect, that makes the former rather irrelevant. More...|
|Dementia||Rather than the oft-repeated cliché that alcohol kills a number of brain cells withevery sip, it actually protects against dementia and improves brain function. More...|
Wine drinkers are more likely to damage the part of the brain that deals with memory and spatial awareness than non-drinkers. Wine is also more detrimental than beer and spirits in this area. More...
|Parkinson’s Disease||Wine has proven to be effective in killing chemicals released in the stomach after eating meat. Such chemicals have been linked with Parkinson’s Disease. More...||All that work is undone, because of ‘heavy metals’ found in wine, which also been linked with the condition. More...|
|Obesity||A glass of wine with food helps the body to break down sugar, as well as reduce fat storage in the body. More...||It tmay help the body break down sugar, but unfortunately, wine is hardly a low-calorie beverage, given that a glass of white wine contains the same calories as a bag of crisps. More...|
|Diabetes||No problems here – it seems that scientists agree that red wine consumption has a positive effect in reducing the effects of diabetes. More...||Although wine in moderation is believed to help diabetes sufferers, too much has the opposite effect. More...|
|Tooth Decay and Gum Disease||It may turn your teeth black, but red wine is shown to reduce gum disease. More...||While it’s good at protecting your gums, it does nothing for your tooth enamel, which is damaged when it comes into contact with wine, particularly white. More...|
|Pregnancy and fertility||Pregnant women shouldn’t drink, right? Wrong. London boffins found that moderate wine consumption lessens the chance of babies being born with behavioural problems. More...|
This topic has really hit the headlines in the past year or two, with some scientists claiming that pregnant women should boycott alcohol altogether, or risk damaging their unborn child. More...
|Ageing||Red wine is clearly the elixir of life, seeing as its antioxidant content protects the body from a host of ageing ailments, including wrinkles, free radicals and memory loss. More...||Too much wine over a long period can make you look older than you are, leading to the early onset of wrinkles and a general worn-out appearance. More...|
|Arthritis||Resveratrol – seemingly the magical ingredient in red wine – also lessens the effect of arthritis, by slowing damage done to cartilage. More...|
|Lung disease||Red or white, wine is good for the lungs, whether by reducing inflammation or by ‘mopping up’ toxins in the blood. More...|
|Prostate problems||A mere four units of alcohol a night reduces the risk of prostate problems by more than 33%. More...|
|Memory||Struggle with Sudoku? Clueless at Countdown? Resveratrol, which is found in red wine, increases blood flow to the brain, and helps you solve those troublesome teasers. Whether it can help you with advanced algebra is another matter. More...||Too much wine in an evening can cause forgetfulness and absent-mindedness days later, according to a report. More...|
|Food poisoning (prevention of)||Alcohol’s preservative qualities are well known, but it seems that drinking it can even ward off deadly bugs such as e.coli and salmonella. More...|
|Cholesterol||Cholesterol is divided into the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ varieties. Fortunately, drinking Champagne gets rid ofthe bad stuff by clearing the arteries of fatty deposits. More...|
|Blood circulation/blood pressure|
Procyanidins, found in red wine, help to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation around the body. More...
|Far from ‘cleaning’ the blood, just a glass or two of wine a day doubles the risk of high blood pressure. More...|
We are often told that excessive drinking weakens the body’s immune system. Not with red wine, it doesn’t. More...
|Eyesight||It is a long-held belief that carrots are the best thing to improve your eyesight, but wine is worth a try, too. More...||Heavy drinking has been linked with macular degeneration, a condition which can lead to blindness. More...|
|Acne||Excessive drinking may make you believe you are more attractive to the opposite sex, but as a trigger for acne, the reverse is rather more accurate. More...|
|Depression||There’s no getting away from it: alcohol is not only a depressant, but too much of it can lead to clinical depression. More...|
|Sore Throat||The old wives’ tale about a glass of Port curing a sore throat may be true after all. Italian scientists have found that both red and white wine have anti-bacterial properties, which may help to prevent throat infections. More...|
|Premature death||A welter of evidence here, claiming the secret of a long life is to drink wine. One report even suggests that half a glass a day can make you live five years longer. More...||Whatever life-giving properties are contained in wine, it’s a fact that it is one of the five most-common causes of premature death. More...|
|Stroke||The risk of suffering a stroke is cut by 20% by drinking two glasses of red wine a day. More...|
|Insomnia||Probably the least surprising piece of research, but yes, wine makes us sleep more easily. But red is more effective than white, thanks to melatonin present in grape skins, which keeps our body clocks ticking over. More...||While wine can be beneficial to a good night’s sleep, any consumed just before bedtime can have the opposite effect. More...|
|Back pain||Oneof the most common reasons for employees’ absence, red wine is good for preventing long-term back pain. More...|
|Gallstones||:If you are prone to gallstones, then a glass of wine a day will cut the risk of suffering from them again by a third. More...|
|The common cold||We all know that the common cold has no cure, but red wine can ward off – and in some cases, develop immunity to – some of the worst viruses that trigger a cold. More...|
|Asthma and allergies||One glass of wine a day affects the body's immune system and makes asthma and allergies worse, according to research. More...|
|General health||As well as the specific conditions listed above, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that wine is good for our general health. Wine drinkers are less prone to depression than teetotallers, less likely to suffer from anxiety and are more likely to have better social skills. More...||Or is it? A New York Times article claims that studies linking moderate wine drinking with good health may be ‘all a big mistake’. More...|