Research: Wine Against Stress?

A Greek intervention study investigates the effect of alcohol on oxidative stress. The results are interesting, even though only 64 patients were studied. 

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Means against oxidative stress (Photo: Elnur/
Means against oxidative stress (Photo: Elnur/

Who isn’t familiar with days when 24 hours are not enough and the word "stress" permeates everything? But the subject of a Greek study is not tangible stress, but stress that occurs inside the body and affects the heart in particular - oxidative stress. This can be counteracted - at least theoretically - by antioxidants, such as the polyphenols in wine.

Alcohol and Oxidative Stress

In 64 patients with coronary heart disease from Athens hospitals, it was investigated whether wine can reduce oxidative stress - and if so, whether this is due to the antioxidants. During an eight-week intervention, various informative markers of oxidative stress were analyzed in blood and urine: oxidatively damaged proteins, lipids or building blocks of genetic material (DNA and RNA). Blood lipids and liver values were also examined for safety.

After 15 alcohol-free days, the actual intervention began: one-third of the subjects remained abstinent for the next eight weeks, one-third drank 0.2 l of a Cabernet Sauvignon every day for lunch or dinner during the study period, and the final third drank 71 ml of a Greek polyphenol-free marc spirit. Both the spirit and the wine provided 27 g of alcohol daily.

Results after Eight Weeks

Blood lipid and liver values did not change. But significant differences occurred in two key markers of oxidative stress: After eight weeks of consuming the spirit, the amount of building blocks of genetic material (DNA and RNA) in the urine that had been oxidatively damaged had increased by one-third. However, for the group consuming wine, it had decreased significantly: by 24% after four weeks and by 15% after eight weeks. For the second marker, oxidized proteins in the blood, wine also performed significantly better: it lowered them by around 10% after four weeks and by 16% after eight weeks, while the spirit caused the value to rise by 18%.

Conclusion of the Researchers

The bioactive polyphenols of wine can reduce the damaging oxidative stress, also in people with existing coronary heart disease.


Dr. Claudia Hammer



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