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May 30, 2008

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Resveratrol can also help improve memory by regulating certain proteins in the brain, which potentially makes it interesting as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease and senile dementia.

It sounds like this research is still in its early development and study. It reminds me of the tests done concerning caffeine and the seesaw of results. First, we were told that caffeine is fine for us, next that there were serious consequences of continuous and over stimulation of the adrenals, and recently I saw a study that more or less confirmed the first study. Back to square one. So before we start our daily consumption of red wine, it might be wise to wait a bit and see the result of future studies.

There was actually some early research on this a while back: Nonassociative mechanisms in preferences for alcoholic flavors: differences between sons of alcoholics and sons of nonalcoholics (Newlin, 1991, PMID: 1801571). The results indicate that sons of non-alcoholic subjects prefer the taste/aroma of red wine.

I recently read that people who drink wine are less likely to become addicted than people who prefer beer or hard liquor.

Viva la vino! JJ - you are right - folks shouldn't use this as an excuse to drink wine, but unfortunately, I am inundated with conflicting messages about what is good and what is bad for me, and it is so confusing! The evidence changes every day, and I like wine, and if it good for me, then why not drink it? I saw on TV that of all of alcohol, red wine was the least addictive too - so I guess that's good, right?

Not sure if this is related, but I’ve read that betaine raises S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) levels, which may in turn play a role in decreasing hepatic steatosis. Betaine is found in most microorganisms, plants and marine animals. Its main physiologic function is to protect cells under stress. It's also a source of methyl groups, which are needed for many biochemical pathways. Betaine is also found naturally in many foods and is the most concentrated in beets, spinach, grains and shellfish.

It's interesting that many of the risk factors for NAFLD are also risk factors for heart disease. Here's what the American Heart Association has to say about red wine and heart disease:

"Over the past several decades, many studies have been published in science journals about how drinking alcohol may be associated with reduced mortality due to heart disease in some populations. Some researchers have suggested that the benefit may be due to wine, especially red wine. Others are examining the potential benefits of components in red wine such as flavonoids (FLAV'oh-noidz) and other antioxidants (an"tih-OK'sih-dants) in reducing heart disease risk. Some of these components may be found in other foods such as grapes or red grape juice. The linkage reported in many of these studies may be due to other lifestyle factors rather than alcohol. Such factors may include increased physical activity, and a diet high in fruits and vegetables and lower in saturated fats No direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke."

More than 40 million adults in the United States have NAFLD, and as many as five percent of patients eventually develop cirrhosis. Major risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides and high blood pressure.

I agree with the other comments. You shouldn't use this study as an excuse to drink red wine all the time. Moderation is extremely important because alcohol can have all kinds of negative effects. In fact, recent evidence suggests that excess alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, colon and breast and probably the liver as well. So, in the case, more is definitely NOT better.

Quercetin is a major flavonol (antioxidant) that occurs in foods of plant origin, such as red wine, onions, green tea, apples, berries, and vegetables from the mustard family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips). It is also found in Ginkgo biloba, St. John's wort, and American elder.

Laboratory and animal studies suggest that flavonoids may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Such effects include inhibition of the oxidation and cytotoxicity of LDL plus general antioxidant effects.

Apparently, different types of wine can have different effects on your health. Here's an interesting article that says which types of wine provide the greatest benefits.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-564201/Hooray-Wine-CAN-good--drinking-right-stuff.html

Did you know you can buy alcohol-free wine? It's made the same as regular wine, except they take out the alcohol after it ferments. It still offers the same health benefits (minus the negative ones associated with alcohol intake). In fact, I think alcohol-free wine has even more antioxidants than regular wine.

The authors acknowledged these possible limitations. Schwimmer, one of the study authors, plans to study people who have more symptomatic liver diseases, such as cirrhosis and hepatitis, not linked to heavy use of alcohol.

It should also be noted that the study may have reporting errors. The sample subjects were said to have NAFLD based on a liver enzyme blood test called ALT. However, ALT is not as accurate as liver biopsies in diagnosing fat in the liver.


Here's an interesting quote from a news article I just read:

"Before one rushes to the discount wine store, the study has several caveats. For starters, one must limit consumption to only 4 ounces a day, a little more than two shots' worth.

Second, people who already have liver disease should avoid alcohol at all costs.

Third, the study does not suggest that drinking more than 4 ounces further reduces the chance of liver disease. In fact, for most people, drinking more alcohol could raise the risk of other illnesses, such as cirrhosis of the liver and heart disease."

It should be noted that the authors compared the effects of wine to beer and liquor. However, these beneficial effects on the liver were only seen with wine, not beer or liquor. Therefore, more studies are needed to determine if the effects were caused by the alcohol or non-alcoholic components of wine.

I agree on the stressing of the moderation principle. It has been repeated many times that red wine in moderation has beneficial effects, but anything over 8 oz per day may be dangerous.

As far as the difference between red wine/resveratrol supplements vs. red wine as a beverage - I believe that research is inconclusive in this area to date.

This is an interesting study that certainly warrants further exploration. However, I think this message needs to be communicated very carefully. People in general (and Americans in particular) seem to take the approach of “if some is good, then more must be better!” Due to the dangers of alcoholic liver disease and the general sense that we are fairly poor “moderators,” I think that this story could have some unintended consequences.

Do wine supplements have the same beneficial effects? What about resveratrol, quercetin, pycnogenol, grapeseed, pine bark? These are all touted to be healthful and potentially better since they don't cause alcoholism. But what are the pros and cons? Which one should a confused consumer take? Or just you stick to Gallo?

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