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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Critique 065: Are there differences in mortality between people consuming wine and those consuming other types of alcoholic beverages? — 20 December 2

Holahan CJ, Schutte KK, Brennan PL, North RJ, Holahah CK, Moos BS, Moos RH. Wine consumption and 20-year mortality among late-life moderate drinkers. J
Stud Alcohol Drug 2012; 73: 80–88.

Forum Comments

Background: There are consistent data showing that moderate consumers of alcohol have lower risk of cardiovascular disease and many other diseases of ageing, as well as lower risk of mortality, than do abstainers.1,2 Experimental data in animals and humans have defined a large number of mechanisms for such an effect.3 There is still some inconsistency as to differential effects according to the type of beverage consumed. In most epidemiologic studies, wine consumers have been shown to have higher levels of education and income, to consume a healthier diet, and have other characteristics that are associated with better health outcomes than consumers of other beverages.4,5 A recent meta-analysis by Constanzo et al6 showed that moderate consumers of both wine and beer had lower risk of cardiovascular disease than did people who generally consumed spirits.

Experimental data clearly show that polyphenols and other constituents in wine, in addition to the alcohol, have beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk in animals, including humans.3, 7-9 The question is whether epidemiologic studies comparing people who consume certain beverages (rather than comparing the beverages themselves) demonstrate such differences in terms of health effects.

A Forum reviewer points out that studies often show that “it is the type of alcoholic beverage which is consumed most frequently in a population which exerts the clearest protective effect. For example, in France it is moderate wine consumption and in Germany moderate beer consumption associated with the healthiest outcomes.10-11 Wine consumers in a customary non-wine drinking country like Denmark may be especially different from the general population. Hence, attempting to adjust for the potential confounding by other lifestyle factors is an ongoing challenge for epidemiologists who are seeking to determine if the consumption of one type of beverage containing alcohol has different effects on health from the consumption of other types of beverage.” > > > > Read More