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Is Drinking Red Wine Good For You?

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Is Drinking Red Wine Good For You?

In accordance with Mayo Clinic Staff comprehensive study, red wine seems to have heart-healthy benefits.
Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks.
Any links between red wine and fewer heart attacks aren’t completely understood. But part of the benefit might be that antioxidants may increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) and protect against cholesterol buildup.
If you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol, especially if you have a family history of alcohol abuse. Too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.
Still, many doctors agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart. It’s possible that antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits.

How is red wine heart healthy?

Red wine seems to have heart-healthy benefits. But it’s possible that red wine isn’t any better than beer, white wine or liquor for heart health. There’s still no clear evidence that red wine is better than other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-healthy benefits.
Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that’s gotten attention.

Resveratrol in red wine

Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevents blood clots. Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a lower risk of inflammation and blood clotting, which can lead to heart disease. But other studies found no benefits from resveratrol in preventing heart disease.
More research is needed to determine if resveratrol lowers the risk of inflammation and blood clotting.

Resveratrol in grapes, supplements and other foods

The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol.
Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, might be one way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Red and purple grape juices may have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.
Other foods that contain some resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It’s not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.
Resveratrol supplements also are available. Researchers haven’t found any harm in taking resveratrol supplements. But your body can’t absorb most of the resveratrol in the supplements.

 

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How does alcohol help the heart?

Various studies have shown that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit your heart, not just alcohol found in red wine. It’s thought that alcohol:
⦁ Raises HDL (healthy) cholesterol
⦁ Reduces the formation of blood clots
⦁ Helps prevent artery damage caused by high levels of LDL (harmful) cholesterol
⦁ May improve the function of the layer of cells that line your blood vessels (endothelium)

Drink in moderation — or not at all

Red wine’s potential heart-healthy benefits look promising. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease.
However, it’s important to understand that studies comparing moderate drinkers to non-drinkers might overestimate the benefits of moderate drinking because non-drinkers might already have health problems. More research is needed before we know whether red wine is better for your heart than are other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits.
Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease. Alcohol can be addictive and can cause or worsen other health problems.
Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of:
⦁ Liver and pancreas diseases
⦁ Heart failure
⦁ High blood pressure
⦁ Certain types of cancer
⦁ Stroke
⦁ Accidents, violence and suicide
⦁ Weight gain and obesity
You should avoid alcohol completely if you:
⦁ Are pregnant
⦁ Have a personal or strong family history of alcoholism
⦁ Have a liver or pancreas disease associated with alcohol consumption
⦁ Have heart failure or a weak heart
⦁ Take certain medications or a daily aspirin
If you have questions about the benefits and risks of alcohol, talk to your doctor about specific recommendations for you.
If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means:
⦁ Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.
⦁ Up to one drink a day for men older than age 65.
⦁ Up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.
A drink is defined as:
⦁ 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer
⦁ 5 ounces (148 mL) of wine
⦁ 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits

How Alcohol Can Damage DNA and Increase Cancer Risk

Scientists think they know how alcohol damages DNA and increases the risk of cancer.
Researchers in England conducted the study in mice, however, experts say that the mechanisms linking alcohol to DNA damage are the same in mice and men. Indeed, earlier studies have shown strong links between alcohol and certain cancers in humans; in addition, the International Agency for Cancer Research classifies alcohol consumption as “carcinogenic to humans.”
What wasn’t clear, however, was how alcohol did its damage.
The study, which was published Jan. 3 in the journal Nature, took a precise look at how exposure to alcohol, and the compounds that result when the body breaks down alcohol, cause damage to chromosomes in blood stem cells. These stem cells are crucial for replenishing cells lost throughout the life span, but once they are damaged, they can spread the damage further. (Stem cells can divide and replenish cells for long periods of time.)
In the study, the researchers gave mice doses of alcohol that would be equivalent to an adult human drinking one bottle of whiskey in a short period of time. Some of the mice were genetically engineered to remove two crucial mechanisms that protect against the harmful side effects of alcohol metabolism, leaving the mice vulnerable.
“When the body processes alcohol, it converts it into a highly reactive toxin called acetaldehyde, which damages DNA,” said lead study author Dr. KJ Patel, a tenured principal investigator at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
Patel’s previous work has shown that there are two mechanisms that protect the cells from acetaldehyde. “The first is an enzyme that detoxifies and removes the acetaldehyde,” Patel said. The second mechanism springs into action after the damage is done and is comprised of “DNA repair systems that fix the damage when it occurs,” he said.

Animal experiments

The researchers worked with three groups of mice: mice with both protection mechanisms in place; mice that didn’t have the acetaldehyde-removing enzyme, called aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, but did have the DNA repair mechanisms; and mice with neither the enzyme nor the DNA repair mechanisms.
“If we remove just the first level of protection, which is just the enzyme that detoxifies [the acetaldehyde], just giving [the mice] one big dose of alcohol is enough to initiate four times more DNA damage than in normal mice,” Patel said. “That level of damage is not very dissimilar to having
spent a short period of time in front of Fukushima.”
Though these mice were genetically engineered to lack this type of protection against acetaldehyde, many people either lack this protective enzyme or have an impaired function of it, according to Patel. This condition is especially common in Asia, where it affects about 5 million people, Patel estimated.
In addition, problems with the second layer of protection — the DNA repair mechanisms — are also fairly common.
These DNA repair mechanisms are “deficient in women who carry either the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation, which predisposes women to breast cancer,” Patel said. Problems with DNA repair also occur in children with the disease called Fanconi’s anemia, he added.

Stem-cell damage

In the study, the scientists focused on DNA damage in blood stem cells. Previous research has shown that alcohol affects blood cells, as many people with alcoholism become anemic, meaning they have too few red blood cells, Patel said.
This finding is significant: Malcolm Alison, a professor of stem-cell biologyat Queen Mary University in London,who was not involved in the
study, said it is believed that most cancers arise from stem cells.
“Most of our organs and tissues have stem cells, immortal cells that replenish cells lost through the likes of old age throughout our lives, and the hematopoietic system is no exception,” Alison said in a statement. (The hematopoietic system is how blood cells are generated in the body.)
“This new study from Cambridge now finds that mouse hematopoietic stem cells can be mutated by a metabolite of alcohol, acetaldehyde,” Alison said.
This is not the first study that has linked alcohol to cancer. Alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor to at least seven types of cancer, including cancers of the blood, breast, mouth and neck, and digestive tract, Patel said.
Patel added that he is skeptical of claims about the positive effects of low doses of alcohol on human health.
“These claims are based on epidemiological studies on population groups,” Patel said. “In many of these studies, there are other concerning variables.”
The current research, however, did not focus on that question.

Conclusion

It is obvious that drinking in moderation or not at all is one of the basic rules of maintaining a good health. If you want to reap some of the beneficial
properties of resveratrol contained in red vine, simply eat grapes, drink grape juice and take resveratrol supplements. That might be the ways to get
resveratrol without drinking alcohol.

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