ATLANTA, Ga. -- Drinking wine appears to be good for the lungs,
a University at Buffalo study has shown, and in this case, the
primary credit goes to white wine rather than red.
In research presented here today (May 20, 2002) at a meeting of
the American Thoracic Society, Holger Schunemann, M.D., Ph.D.,
assistant professor of medicine and social and preventive medicine
in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, reported that
drinking wine recently and over a lifetime was associated with
better lung function.
The study found no association between lung function and total
amount of alcohol consumed (some previous studies had found a
negative effect), nor between lung health and alcohol from beer,
wine coolers or liquor.
"This finding may indicate that nutrients in wine are
responsible for the positive effect of alcoholic beverages on lung
function," said Schunemann. "Red wine in moderation has been shown
to be beneficial for the heart, but in this case the relationship
was stronger for white wine."
UB researchers conducted the study in a random sample of 1,555
white and African-American residents of Western New York. They
collected comprehensive information about current and lifetime
alcohol consumption and lifestyle habits, including diet, and took
All participants performed standard lung-function tests, which
measured the volume of air they could expel in one breath --
referred to as forced vital capacity (FVC) -- and the volume
forcibly expelled in one second (FEV1).
To assess alcohol consumption, researchers defined those who had
fewer than 12 drinks during their lifetime as "never drinkers" and
those who were drinkers but had consumed no alcohol in the past
month as "non-current drinkers." The remaining "current drinkers"
reported the type of alcoholic beverage they drank and how often,
the size of each drink, patterns of consumption and how often they
drank more than usual.
Analysis of participants' demographic information and alcohol
consumption data revealed some interesting relationships:
-- Beer only drinkers were younger, predominately male, drank
more daily and over their lifetimes, and were more likely to smoke
than other participants
-- Liquor-only drinkers were heavier, based on body mass index,
-- The groups of wine only, liquor only and recent abstainers
included more women than men
-- Those who drank wine only or various alcoholic beverages had
the highest education level
-- Wine drinkers had the highest levels of protective
antioxidants in their blood
Analysis of all of the alcohol consumption variables with lung
function showed that both recent and lifetime intake of wine had
the strongest association with FEV1 and FVC, Schunemann said, an
effect likely linked to wine's antioxidant properties.
"Evidence suggests that alcohol may increase the oxidative
burden," he noted, "but there is a large body of evidence showing
that wine contains antioxidants such as flavinoids and phenols. We
also have shown that both dietary levels and blood serum levels of
antioxidants are linked to lung health and function. We think that
the antioxidants in wine account for our current findings."
Additional contributors to the study were Brydon J.B. Grant,
M.D., and Deepa Kudalkar, M.D., from UB's Department of Medicine;
Jo L. Freudenheim, Ph.D., Paola Muti, M.D., Ph.D., Susan McCann,
Ph.D., Malathi Ram, Ph.D., and Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., of UB's
Department of Social and Preventive Medicine; Tom Nochajski, Ph.D.,
of UB's Research Institute on Addictions, and Marcia Russell,
Ph.D., of the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, Calif.
The research was supported by grants from the National
Institutes of Health, the Ralph Hochstetter Medical Research Fund
(Buswell Fellowship) at UB and Research for Health in Erie