Latest scientific news 31 October 2019

The impact of moderate wine consumption on human health

Two recent publications have reviewed the scientific evidence concerning the effects/impact of moderate wine consumption on human health.

One paper(1) gathered strong scientific arguments in favor of a low and moderate wine consumption as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle with special consideration of the wine-derived polyphenols.

The other review(2) summarised the accumulated evidence correlating moderate red wine consumption with prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD) and focused on the different mechanisms underlying this relationship.

There seems to be an ever-increasing tendency to underline the detrimental effects of alcoholic beverages on human health ,despite the multiple beneficial health effects demonstrated by research and despite the recorded steady decrease in wine consumption.

The current review considers the potential detrimental effects of alcohol, where demonstrated by science, however, the potential beneficial effects are also discussed, with a particular focus on the polyphenolic wine components.

Some of the research findings include:

Cardiovascular Diseases:

The benefits of a moderate intake of alcoholic beverages in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), and dying from this disease, have been demonstrated in numerous studies over the past three decades. Compared with abstainers, moderate drinkers have a decreased risk of CVD in all age groups, for both men and women but the most beneficial effects can be noted for middle-aged and older individuals when risk factors for CVD rise.


The relation between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and cancer is less clear cut.

What is a possible mechanism? An individuals’s response to alcohol will depend on his or her genetic profile. By exposure to predisposing factors (internal or external), the genetic material can be damaged. In normal, young persons, efficient mechanisms are in place to repair some of the damage. However, with age and in case of specificgenetic deficiencies, damaged DNA tends to accumulate in the cells, increasing the risk of cancers. From alcoholic beverages, the main agressor is not alcohol itself but one of its metabolites, the acetaldehyde, a known and recognized carcinogen. When the ethanol quantity is higher than the capacity of the liver to completely metabolize it, acetaldehyde accumulates in the cells and damages the DNA.

In wine, the presence of phenolic compounds may block or counteract the carcinogenic effect of acetaldehyde and alcohol.

The authors further describe in detail the well documented anti-oxidative, anti-blood-clotting, anti-proliferative effects as well as the immunomodulating actions of the polyphenols in wine. They suggest that many beneficial effects correlated with flavonoid intake from wine, grape and other sources may also be a marker of overall healthy dietary habits.

Their review of the research results, highlights however, the complexity of the relationship between wine and human health. They comment on the continuous challenge to integrate the results and the effcient interpretation of large amounts of data, in a way that can be useful at an individual or personal level.

Overall, wine consumers should be advised that to avoid the harmful physiological effects of rapid accumulation of alcohol and acetaldehyde in the body, it is important to consume alcoholic beverages with food and to stay hydrated to dilute these compounds.

Antoce AO, Stockley, C, An overview of the implications of wine on human health, with special consideration oft he wine-derived phenolic compounds, AgroLife Scientific J, Vol 8, No 1, 2019 

The second review(2) describes the scientific evidence of benefits related to the consumption of red wine which has been related to a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)…..

Experimental studies and meta-analyses have mainly attributed this outcome to the presence of a great variety of polyphenolic compounds such as resveratrol, catechin, epicatechin, quercetin, and anthocyanin in red wine. These have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties contributing to reduce insulin resistance, changing plasma lipids and to decreasing oxidative stress of „bad“ LDL cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol).

The authors conclude: As a consequence, a clear effect on the reduction of risk factors and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases have been observed. In light of these considerations, a moderate intake of red wine may produce cardioprotective effects. However, more in-depth knowledge is required in order to understand the molecular basis of the potential mechanisms involved.

  • Castaldo L , Narváez A , Graziani G, Gaspari A, Di Minno G, Ritieni A. Red Wine Consumption and Cardiovascular Health Molecules 2019, 24(19), 3626

doi. org/10.3390/molecules24193626