A new study by Serge Reynaud et al, has found that for a given blood pressure, the risk of death from coronary artery disease is much higher in northern Europe and the United States than in Mediterranean countries. In a prospective cohort study, the authors tested the hypothesis that regular wine drinking reduces the hypertension-related risk of death, using data from 36,583 healthy middle-aged men who had normal results on an electrocardiogram and were not taking drugs for cardiovascular disease risk factors. The subjects underwent a comprehensive health appraisal at the Center for Preventive Medicine between 1978 and 1985. Mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular disease during a 13-21 year follow up was recorded.
Moderate “wine drinkers” (those who consumed <60 g/d of alcohol and no beer) in quartiles of systolic blood pressure averaging 116, 129, 139, and 158 mmHg, had lower risks of death from all causes by 37%, 2%, 27%, and 23%, respectively, than did abstainers; all differences except for the second quartile were statistically significant. No significant reduction in all-cause mortality in relation to SBP was observed in other drinkers (those who consumed both beer and wine or those consuming ³60 g alcohol/d from wine). The authors conclude that a moderate intake of wine is associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes in persons with hypertension.
The study found that moderate wine drinkers (<60 g/d, or less than approx. 5 drinks/day) had higher blood pressure than abstainers but that their risk of all-cause mortality was lower than that of abstainers.
Although the investigators did not adjust for total alcohol in their analyses, the total amounts of alcohol were similar in the different groups (31 and 41 g/d for wine drinkers and other drinkers, respectively, in the lower consumption groups; 103 and 105 g/d, respectively, in the higher consumption groups), so this is probably not important.
The greatest lowering of risk (37%) was among subjects in the lowest quartile of blood pressure, but still there was a significant lowering of risk (RR=0.77, 95% CI = 0.62, 0.96) for those in the highest blood pressure group, which had an average systolic pressure of 158 mmHg, in comparison with abstainers. For these subjects in the highest quartile of blood pressure, the relative risk of death for heavier consumers of wine (60 g/d or more) was 1.26 (95% CI = 1.01, 1.57); for other consumers (wine plus beer) of <60 g/d it was 1.14 (95% CI = 0.89, 1.47), and for other consumers of 60 g/d or more of alcohol it was 1.34 (95% CI = 1.07, 1.67). The authors also report in the text similar effects for cardiovascular mortality, with overall a lower relative risk, in comparison with abstainers, only for moderate wine consumers (RR=0.76, 95% CI=0.59, 0.97).
This study suggests that even though the alcohol in wine may lead to increases in blood pressure, some of its polyphenols or other non-alcoholic components may help protect against all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Such potential protection is lost when the consumption is higher with greater than 60 g/d of alcohol in the form of any beverage being associated with a significantly higher risk of total mortality.
Source: Renaud SC, Guéguen R, Conard P, Lanzmann-Petithory D, Orgogozo J-M, Henry O. Moderate wine drinkers have lower hypertension-related mortality: a prospective cohort study in French men. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:621-625.