Researchers seeking to understand once-and-for-all if wine drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular problems have found that associated lifestyle habits and environmental factors of wine consumers largely explained their better health outcomes.

The study appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Previous studies have indicated that polyphenols and other constituents present in wine and some beers protect against most cardiovascular risk factors, however they have been inconsistent in showing that benefit after adjustment for all associated lifestyle factors.

Researchers examined the level of wine consumption and total mortality among 802 adults aged 55–65 over a 20-year period, controlling for key sociodemographic, behavioral, and health status factors. When they controlled only for overall ethanol consumption, subjects who drank less wine showed a substantially increased 20-year mortality risk of 85 percent. However, after controlling for all lifestyle attributes, the initial mortality difference associated with wine consumption was no longer significant.

According to the study, led by Charles J. Holahan, PhD, from the University of Texas, wine consumers, especially in comparison with spirits drinkers, have been shown to have higher levels of education and income, to consume a healthier diet, be more physically active, and have other characteristics that are associated with better health outcomes.

The International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research reviewed the results, noting the study fails to assess alcohol consumption and covariates after baseline, and changes that may have occurred during the 20-year observation period are not accounted for.