Reducing Mortality: Is Wine or Beer Better?
The lower risk of mortality from coronary artery disease in Mediterranean countries is often attributed to wine drinking. To examine whether wine or other alcohol consumption reduces the hypertension-related risk of death, researchers conducted a prospective cohort study in France using questionnaire and medical exam data from 36,583 healthy men aged 30–59 who were followed for 13–21 years. Key findings from analyses adjusted for potential confounders (e.g., age, cholesterol level, smoking) include the following:
- For 3 of 4 quartiles of systolic blood pressure (means 116 mm Hg, 139 mm Hg, and 158 mm Hg, but not mean 129 mm Hg), moderate wine drinkers (those who consumed <60 g of alcohol from wine per day and no beer) had a significantly lower risk of death from all causes (relative risks, RR, from 0.63 to 0.77) than did abstainers.
- Those who consumed both beer and wine, and those who consumed >=60 g of alcohol from wine per day did not experience a significant reduction in risk of death from all causes.
This is a very large study with excellent ascertainment of cause of death among men in eastern France where both beer and wine are commonly consumed, and lifestyle characteristics of wine drinkers and beer drinkers are similar. Although wine's alcohol content may lead to increases in blood pressure, some of its polyphenols or other non-alcoholic components may help protect against death. Such protection is lost when drinkers consume greater amounts of wine or when some of their alcohol intake is from beer.R. Curtis Ellison, MD
SC, Guéguen R, Conard P, et al. Moderate wine drinkers
have lower hypertension-related mortality: a prospective
cohort study in French men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(3):621–625.