Results of a study by Serge Reynaud of 36,250 healthy men who
were appraised between 1987 and 1983 in the area of Nancy, France
has been published in the Archives of Internal Medicine 1865-1870 199, Sept 13 1999.
Education, professional and leisure activities as well as smoking
and drinking habits were evaluated using a questionnaire. Blood
pressure, serum cholesterol levels and electro-cardiography tests
were routinely performed and mortality from all causes was measured
in the 12-18 year follow up period. During the follow up 3617
subjects died, the relative risk of death was estimated by the
Cox proportional hazards model using non-drinkers as the reference.
After adjusting for age, smoking, education, physical activity
and BMI (body mass index) mortality from CHD was lower by 45-48%
and cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 39% for a daily intake of
22-54g of wine. In beer drinkers, adjusting for the same factors,
mortality from CHD and CVD were lowered by 42% and 32% respectively.
The risk of cirrhosis was reduced at consumption below 54g a day,
but increased at daily consumption above that level.The lower
mortality from CHD and CVD with a moderate intake of alcohol is
consistent with results of numerous studies reported by Rimm et
al. By contrast a reduction in overall motality was only noted
in wine drinkers.
The main explaination could be that only wine drinking is associated
with a significantly lower death rate from cancer ( 20-22%) and
other causes ( 28-42%) for consumers of 1-3 drinks a day.
Studies suggest that alcohol intake predisposes subjects to certain
cancers but that wine contains additional substances, such as
quercetin and resveratrol that inhibit the three main stages of
carcinogenesis, in addition to its antioxidant and antiplatelet
effects. Another possibility is that beer, until 1990 contained
specific carcinogenic substances called nitrosamines. If nitrosamines
are responsible for the carcinogenic effect of beer, it will only
be observed in the association between beer drinking and cancers.
Never the less, the evidence that heavy drinking of any alcoholic
beverage with or without nitrosamines or resveratrol increases
the risk of cancer by 100% was further confirmed by this study.
Interestingly the figures confirmed the trend of most drinkers
(86%) to drink both beer and wine, this combination does reduce
the risk of death from all causes, hence further studies are needed
to disentangle the respective health effects of drinking wine
and beer. Young adults were not included in the study, thus the
results are only applicable to middle-aged men.
Based on research released from Unit 330, Institut National pour
la Sante et la Recherche Medicale, Bordeaux (Drs Renaud & Salamon);
Centre de Medicine Preventative, Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy (Drs Gueguen