Wine may protect against dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study by Gothenburg University in Sweden.
The study, which started in 1968, has followed the drinking and lifestyle habits of 1,458 women. Women were categorised according to types of alcohol consumed and frequency of consumption.
162 of the women in the study eventually developed dementia. The results showed that within the wine drinking group there was a significantly below-average rate of dementia, whereas no such correlation was found for women who regularly drank beer or spirits.
Professor Lauren Lissner, director of the study, said ‘the group with the lowest proportion of dementia was that containing women who said they only drank wine’.
She added that the findings should not however be treated as an endorsement of wine consumption on health grounds.
Another study, by the Danish Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen, agreed with Professor Lissner’s findings, concluding that people who drank wine weekly or monthly were more than two times less likely to develop dementia.
The beneficial effects observed are due to compounds called flavonoids, found in red wine.
These compounds are antioxidants and help to minimise the damage caused by particles called free radicals which are released when our bodies convert oxygen into energy.
It has also been claimed that flavonoids in wine may combat stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases.
Other cell studies have claimed flavonoids are instrumental in preventing obesity (due to improving the body’s ability to break down sugar), bolstering immune defence, reducing tumour incidence and slowing growth of cancer cells.
Research at University College London recently suggested that a small glass of wine a week during pregnancy does not harm children and may even improve their behaviour and vocabulary.
Written by Guy Seddon