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Study links moderate wine drinking, lower stroke risk

graphic December 3, 1998
Web posted at: 9:28 p.m. EST (0228 GMT)

From Reporter Louise Schiavone

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reports about the health benefits -- or risks -- of food and drink may leave people asking whether the glass is half-empty or half-full.

New research about wine leans toward the more optimistic view.

A 16-year study of 13,000 people in Denmark has found that a daily glass of wine may significantly reduce the risk of stroke.

"Apparently, it seems to be a beneficial effect of a weekly intake of wine on the risk of stroke in our population," said Thomas Truelsen of the Institute of Preventive Medicine.

Doctors aren't yet ready to recommend hoisting a glass every day. Regular exercise and weight control still far outweigh the benefits of a daily drink.

But researchers who studied the Danish group noted that those who drank roughly one glass of wine daily -- red or white -- had a 32-percent reduction in their risk of stroke. The same was not true of beer or liquor drinkers.

Wine 101:
  • Wine Labels -- Learn how to read them
  • Wine Prices -- Find out how much you'll pay
  • Wine Varietals -- Use our glossary
  • Alcoholic Drinks - Compare the nutritional value of wine against other alcoholic beverages
  • Quick Facts - Take a look at the origin of alcohol and guidelines for safe consumption
  • Medical Issues - Find out about the causes and symptoms of alcoholism
  • It's not the first time wine has been linked to good health. Just last month, American researchers found elements in dark red grapes which may reduce stroke risk.

    "We found that when you bathe the cells that cause clotting in people in a solution of purple grape juice, they have much less tendency to form clots," said Jane Freedman, a researcher at Georgetown University Medical Center.

    Roughly 700,000 people in the United States suffer strokes every year. What help these findings may be to them is uncertain.

    Stuart Seides, a cardiologist with the American Heart Association, points out that the study is based on one ethnic population, while Americans are a diverse lot with many different dietary habits.

    A glass of wine each day for many Americans may not cancel out other risky behaviors, such as physical inactivity and poor diet.

    "A Polish sausage and a glass of chardonnay doesn't cut it," Seides said.

    And of course, drinking too much has a proven downside.

    "Certainly we know there are a lot of detrimental effects of drinking heavily -- which would only be say, in this case, more than two drinks per day -- with regard to breast cancer for women in the younger age group, (and) with regard to cancer (and) cirrhosis," said the Institute of Preventive Medicine's Morton Gronbaek.

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