Skip to main content

Wear red and DRINK red for women’s heart health

This Friday Feb 2nd is the annual “wear red” day in Canada and the U.S. to raise awareness for women’s heart health. Why only a day for the number one threat to women’s health? Women are 5 times more likely to succumb to heart disease than breast cancer, which gets a whole month (October.) Another contradiction is that the advice women hear about prevention of breast cancer is the opposite of what you can do to lower the risk of heart disease: a daily glass of wine. Even one drink a day raises your risk of breast cancer, we are told, ignoring the overriding benefits of wine on heart health.

Drink red wine to live longer

Here’s why I think women should also “drink red.” For starters, wine helps de-stress and celebrates life. Stress is a factor in heart disease, and if that were the only way wine helped it would be worth considering. But the medical evidence is also strong: a daily glass of red wine helps raise the HDL “good cholesterol” levels, which lowers the risk of cardiovascular problems.  You may have heard that the “French paradox” was a myth, but it is alive and well: women who have a glass of wine daily with meals live longer on average than those who don’t.

A glass of wine is a simple thing with a powerful effect, particularly for peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. According to women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider, quoted in a recent article in the Wine Spectator, estrogen suppresses production of the enzyme (ADH) that metabolizes alcohol; as estrogen levels decline, ADH increases, so women handle alcohol more like men. Estrogen is protective against heart disease, so the benefits of red wine help maintain the protection later in life.

The alcohol-cancer dilemma: Why wine is still OK

The downside of a daily drink is the association of alcohol with some types of cancer. Recent studies conclude that any level of consumption raises risk, and breast cancer is second after lung cancer for women. But here’s the good news: if you stick to red wine, and limit bingeing, you are certainly within a low risk category and might actually be reducing your odds of breast cancer. Maybe it’s the antioxidants like resveratrol, maybe it’s wine’s association with healthy living, or both. Either way, remember it is the overall benefit to health and longevity that matters most.

So wear red, drink red, and share it with a friend. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why can some people drink only European wines? It’s probably not what you think.

Who doesn’t know someone who swears they can drink wines when they are in Europe but has a reaction to wine back home? Theories abound as to why this occurs, but none of them completely explains the problem. Suspect sulfites? Maybe, but that is almost certainly not the issue for most. Pesticides possibly? A tasting room server pressed that idea on me recently, claiming that American winemakers use more of them and they accumulate in our fat tissue over our lifetime, increasing our sensitivity to them. But evidence suggests otherwise, at least as far as pesticide use is concerned. Is it lower alcohol content? There is a persuasive case to be made for that, but as European winemakers chase higher scores, the alcohol content increases there too. Each of these premises may apply to some degree, but I have another idea to toss into the mix: I think that when we are in Europe, we drink differently. We are probably on vacation, and we are more relaxed. We are more likely to drink in a tradit…

How globalization of drinking habits threatens the French paradox

It seems that the more studies we see on the relationship between wine and health, and the larger they are, the more contradictory the results. Headlines summarizing comprehensive international studies declare the French paradox dead, and all alcoholic beverages are equally detrimental. I think there is an overlooked explanation for this: over the past several decades, convergence of drinking patterns around the world has separated wine from its role as a daily part of a meal. Globalization has commoditized our views about drink, toppling it from its role as a culturally specific emblem. Global convergence of drinking There are several recent reports summarizing the trend,[i],[ii],[iii]and it applies for both developed and developing countries. Since the early 1960s, wine’s share of global alcohol consumption has more than halved, declining from 35% to 15%. Beer and spirits have taken up the slack, with beer gaining 42% and spirits adding 43%, both large gains. The bigger story howeve…