Alcohol, wine, and health

Am J Surg. 2000 Nov;180(5):357-61. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9610(00)00486-4.


Background: For the past 20 years numerous epidemiological studies have correlated the consumption of alcohol and a variety of disease states: overall mortality, arteriosclerotic vascular diseases, hypertension, cancers, peptic ulcer, respiratory infections, gall stones, kidney stones, age-related macular degeneration, bone density, and cognitive function.

Methods: A review of these articles reveals that each of these studies has compared the outcome of individuals at various levels of alcohol consumption with that of abstainers.

Results: Each analysis has identified a U-shaped or J-shaped curve of reduced relative risk for a given disease state compared with abstainers. A clear definition of consumption in moderation becomes evident: for men it should not exceed 2 to 4 drinks per day, and for women it should not exceed 1 to 2 drinks per day.

Conclusions: Alcohol by itself has favorable effects on the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and inhibition of platelet aggregation. Wine, particularly red wine, has high levels of phenolic compounds that favorably influence multiple biochemical systems, such as increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, antioxidant activity, decreased platelet aggregation and endothelial adhesion, suppression of cancer cell growth, and promotion of nitric oxide production.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking* / adverse effects
  • Bone Density
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cholelithiasis / epidemiology
  • Cholelithiasis / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Calculi / epidemiology
  • Kidney Calculi / prevention & control
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control
  • Wine*