Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Red wine in moderate amounts makes blood vessels healthier: hospital study

Staff Writer, with CNA

A study conducted by a local hospital has shown that drinking a moderate amount of red wine daily could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by giving a boost to cells that repair blood vessels.

A cardiovascular team from Taipei Veterans General Hospital arrived at the conclusion based on a study that investigated the effect of red wine on endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), or rare cells with the ability to repair damage to blood vessel walls, team members said on Monday.

In the study, 80 healthy adult volunteers aged 20 to 40 were divided into four groups, with three groups consuming different alcoholic beverages in varying amounts — 100cc of French red wine, 250cc of beer, or 30cc of vodka — and one control group drinking nonalcoholic beverages for three consecutive weeks.

“We discovered that the -volume of EPC multiplies after drinking a moderate amount of red wine,” said Huang Po-hsun (黃柏勳), an attending physician involved in the study, suggesting a positive correlation between red wine and repairing injured blood vessels.

Asked whether patients should drink red wine regularly, cardiologist Chen Jaw-wen (陳肇文) said he was not sure.

“Since the study was done on healthy human beings, we cannot say whether it is equally effective on unhealthy people,” Chen said.

In terms of prevention and healthcare, moderate red wine consumption can make blood vessels healthier, Chen said, but warned that excessive drinking could damage their health.

Huang said that daily consumption of beverages containing 10 percent alcohol should not exceed 30cc, and individuals with cirrhosis and other chronic diseases should be especially careful about their drinking habits.

Citing another study, the Bureau of Health Promotion warned that while a small amount of wine consumption could lower the risk of coronary artery diseases, excessive drinking could lead to many other health problems.

The study found that a person who drinks 250cc of red wine daily has 1.9 times the risk of suffering from oropharyngeal cancer and 2.9 times the risk of contracting cirrhosis compared with those who never drink.

Red wine has been widely touted as having beneficial medical properties, with some citing it as the explanation for the so-called French paradox — the fact that the French have a diet heavy in saturated fats but have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.

Other studies, however, have been unable to establish a verifiable link between red wine and improved cardiovascular health.

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