Medical gains for wine – News this Month: July 2002 – Brief Article
Medical research reports in May revealed two areas in which wine offers apparent key health benefits. The first report, from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), notes that a compound called pterostilbene (terro-STILL-bien) present in grapes may have similar cancer preventive qualities to those found in resveratrol, another grape compound.
That finding by ARS research chemist Agnes Rimando, at the agency’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit at Oxford, Miss., is part of a study posted on the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” Web site. ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“In the study, Rimando reports that pterostilbene showed strong inhibitory activity against breast cancer cell lines. But the evidence remains preliminary, and the compound has yet to be evaluated in humans, according to Rimando.
In the second report, presented at the American Thoracic Society’s annual meeting, Dr. Holger J. Schunemann, assistant professor of medicine and social and preventive medicine at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in New York, said that white wine may be good for the lungs.
Schunemann and colleagues enrolled 1,555 men and women living in upstate New York in the study. They questioned each about lifestyle and diet–and especially about the licensed beverages that they drank. They wanted to know what the person primarily drank (wine, beer, spirits, coolers), how much they had drunk over their lifetime (by decade) and how much they’d imbibed in the past 30 days.
Researchers also measured aspects of breathing, such as lung capacity, which may serve as an indicator of general health. “(Lung) function has also been shown to be a strong predictor of heart disease,” he says. “We found that white wine intake was strongly associated with better (lung) function,” Schunemann says. Red wine also had a positive effect on breathing capability, but it was “somewhat weaker.”
The data: One glass of wine per day equaled a 1.5% higher lung function, adding one or two more years to the person’s lifetime; 3 glasses a day improved lung capacity by 3%. By that measure, 6 glasses of wine should bring a 4% improvement, Schunemann says. “Other studies have shown that the more wine you drink, the greater the effects,” Schunemann told WebMD.
Grape juice could have a similar effect, but, according to Schunemann, a bowl of grapes, as vitamin-packed as they are, won’t work as well as wine.
“There are processes in winemaking that provide additional antioxidants that we think are in part responsible for this (impact on lung function),” he added.
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