Moderate wine consumption – part of a balanced diet or a health risk?
Consumption of wine/alcoholic beverages remains a topic of great uncertainty and controversy worldwide. The term “no safe level” dominates the media communication and policy ever since population studies in 2018 [1,2] were published, which denied the existence of a J-curve and suggested that ANY consumption of an alcoholic beverage is harmful to health. The scientific evidence accumulated during the past decades about the health benefits of moderate wine consumption, were questioned and drinking guidelines considered to be too loose. As a consequence, during the last few years, the upper limit of low-risk alcohol consumption has been progressively lowered in the national drinking guidelines.
Although the authors of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study concluded in 2018 that it would be best for overall health to avoid drinking at all, the same GBD scientists in 2022, corrected their own previous data. In their 2022 update  – different from the 2018 publication – the alcohol-related health risks in every country were considered. The results showed that the risks from the consumption of alcoholic beverages vary greatly depending on the disease, age and region. Based on these new results, a moderate consumption of wine/alcoholic beverages for individuals above 40 years of age can provide health benefits, such as a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The influence of moderate wine/alcohol consumption on health was described by a J-shaped curve. Excessive drinking is always associated with an increased risk of death and various health risks.
What are the reasons for such contrary results and what is the practical significance of “global calculations” in both GBD studies? What does it mean for the wine consumer? The latest scientific evidence of moderate wine consumption in the context a healthy lifestyle and diet will be discussed, as well as how the communication of the Wine in Moderation initiative builds on objective scientific facts.
- Gakidou, E.,(2018) Alcohol use and burden for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet, 392(10152):1015-1035 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31310-2
- Wood, A.M., et al., Risk thresholds for alcohol consumption: combined analysis of individual-participant data for 599 912 current drinkers in 83 prospective studies. Lancet, 2018. 391(10129):1513-1523 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30134-X
- Gakidou, E. and G.A. Collaborators, Population-level risks of alcohol consumption by amount, geography, age, sex, and year: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2020. Lancet, 2022. 400(10347):185-235 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00847-9.
Issue: ICGWS 2023
1Deutsche Weinakademie, Platz des Weines 2, 55294 Bodenheim, Germany