By: Katharine Cimmino, Editor-in-Chief
Many articles and quick one-line stories have been cropping up on the internet boasting the benefits of drinking wine regularly. While headlines such as, “Drinking a Glass of Red Wine is the same as Getting an Hour of Exercise, Says New Study,” may make readers ecstatic that their drinking habits are finally justified, is there any medical evidence supporting these claims?
The study In Vino Veritas is the first study to randomize people into two groups and have them consume wine. In the study, 146 healthy subjects with mild to moderate risk of atherosclerosis, according to the HeartScore®, were randomized to regular consumption of red wine (Pinot Noir) or white wine (Chardonnay-Pinot) for one year. HeartScore® is an international interactive tool that helps predict and manage the risk of heart attack and stroke in people (www.heartscore.org). Participants consumed a “moderate” (according to the World Health Organization) amount of wine each week. For men this meant 0.3L for a maximum of five times a week (0.3L is approximately 2-3 glasses of wine). For women this meant 0.2L for a maximum of five times a week (0.2L is approximately 1-2 glasses of wine). The primary endpoint was the level of HDL cholesterol at one year. Secondary endpoints included other markers of atherosclerosis (e.g. LDL cholesterol). Participates consumed their usual diet, kept log books of their activities, and had to return the corks to prove that they drank the wine and didn’t sell it.1,2
The study found that there was no difference between HDL cholesterol levels after the study concluded, however, LDL was lower in both groups at one year and total cholesterol was lower in the red wine group. Upon further analysis of the subgroups, there was a positive correlation between those who exercised regularly (at least twice a week) and wine consumption. In this group HDL cholesterol increased and LDL and total cholesterol decreased regardless of type of wine.
While at the European Society of Cardiologists Congress, Professor Taborsky (lead author of the study) said, “There may be some synergy between the low dose of ethyl alcohol in wine and exercise which is protective against CVD.” He continued by stating, “In a future study we will compare the effects of red and white wine on markers of atherosclerosis in patients at high risk for CVD who take statins and do regular exercise. We hope to find that moderate wine consumption is safe in these patients.”2
So what can we tell patients? While the results of this trial look promising, long-term studies should be conducted to see if the heart healthy effects last.
- Taborsky M, Ostadal P, Petrek M. A pilot randomized trial comparing long-term effects of red and white wines on biomarkers of atherosclerosis (in vino veritas: IVV trial). Bratisl Lek Listy. 2012;113(3):156-8.
- 2014-ESC Congress Barcelona. Cardiovascular Disease Prevention – Risk Assessment and Management. ESC . Aug 31, 2014. Available athttp://www.escardio.org/about/press/press-releases/esc14-barcelona/Pages/in-vino-veritas-atherosclerosis-stress.aspx. Accessed Nov 6, 2014
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