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White wine may benefit lungs

May 20, 2002

ATLANTA--The next time you are deciding whether to order white wine or red wine, consider this: A study presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Atlanta on May 20 concludes that while both types of wine bolster lung function, white wine seems to have a more positive effect on lung health.

These results, from a study of 1,555 adults, add to evidence from years of studies on wine and the heart that drinking wine can be beneficial to your health, according to lead researcher Holger J. Schunemann, M.D., Ph.D., of the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y. "Many studies on wine and the heart have concluded that one to three glasses of wine per day may be beneficial, and this study suggests that an equivalent amount of wine may also help protect the lung," he said.

"We didn't see any significant association between total alcohol intake, beer or liquor and lung function, but we did see a positive association between both recent and lifetime wine intake and lung function," Dr. Schunemann said. "People who drank white wine had greater lung function than those who consumed red wine, but both groups of wine drinkers had greater lung function than non-wine drinkers." He notes that white wine has a high level of antioxidant molecules called flavonoids, which may help account for the wine's protective effect.

The researchers asked study subjects to answer questions during a detailed, computer-based interview about their total lifetime alcohol consumption by decade, as well as their alcohol use in the previous 30 days. Their lung function was measured. The scientists took into account the subjects' smoking habits, weight, eating habits and lung function, in order to compensate for the fact that people who drink wine but not other types of alcohol are more likely to have a healthier diet, and are less likely to smoke, than people who exclusively drink beer or other types of alcohol.

"It's difficult to separate out red and white wine consumption in the United States, because many people drink both types of wine here, unlike France or Italy where red wine is more popular," Dr. Schunemann noted.
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American Thoracic Society

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