Benefits, drawbacks of red wine

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Red wine has been found to have many health benefits, but some are are reluctant to encourage people to drink because of the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption (Mason Swenson | The Collegian)

With finals approaching, students may search for ways to reduce stress. Many argue that red wine has health benefits that justify a study break; however, many experts have yet to come to a conclusion regarding red wine’s benefits.

According to the Mayo Clinic, many doctors have said they agree some of the substances in red wine, such as antioxidants and resveratrol, promote heart health by protecting the organ from artery damage, preventing blood clots and reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Despite this general agreement, some experts have their doubts. The Mayo Clinic also states that many doctors, even those who agree that red wine has some benefits, are reluctant to encourage people to drink because of the risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

According to an Everyday Health article by Krisha McCoy, benefits to moderate drinking of red wine include protection against some cancers, slowing age-related memory loss, fighting the growth of fat cells and promoting dental health.

Also according to the article, however, red wine has also been linked to other cancers, and everyday consumption might lead to alcoholism. For example, McCoy cited a study, performed by Cancer Research UK and published in Alcohol and Alcoholism in 2012, that showed that wine could increase a woman’s chances of getting breast cancer. Alcohol is also linked to mouth, throat, liver and bowel cancer in some cases.

Some might argue there are healthier alternatives to drinking red wine that possess fewer risks. “Non-alcoholic red wine may lower blood pressure,” a 2012 article in Harvard Health Publications by Heidi Goodman, said a study involving 67 men between 55 and 75 compared the consumption of red wine, non-alcoholic red wine and gin.

According to Goodman’s article, this 12-week study showed that when drinking non-alcoholic red wine, participants reduced the risk of heart disease by 14 percent and the risk of having a stroke by approximately 20 percent. Red wine only saw a slight reduction in heart disease and stroke risk, and gin saw no change, according to the article.

Deepak Bhatt, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said to the Harvard Health Publications that the results of this study were promising but overall inconclusive. He also said to the publication that he would not clinically recommend red wine, even non-alcoholic, to patients wanting to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease until more studies are done on the topic.

Despite the inconclusive results of this study, Bhatt said to the Harvard Health Publications that if a person already drinks red wine, a daily glass of wine doesn’t seem to hurt anything. He said he recommends not relying on wine having any real heart benefits.

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