A new study from BMC Medicine shows an adverse link between moderate alcohol consumption (two to seven glasses of wine a week) and depression. The authors evaluated the incidence of depression among a group of older Mediterranean men and women who were light to moderate drinkers with high cardiovascular risk.
As would be expected with this population, wine was the most frequently consumed alcoholic beverage (accounting for 82 percent of alcohol consumed by participants). So the authors evaluated specifically the association of wine with incident depression, using repeated measurements of wine consumption.
It turned out that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption was "inversely associated with the incidence of depression" noted the authors. Participants who drank between two and seven glasses of wine per week had the greatest benefit, have 30 percent less risk of being depressed as non-drinkers. Moderate drinkers also had lower risk of depression, but it wasn’t as pronounced as the low-to-moderate group.
The results were the same when controlling for lifestyle factors like smoking, age, diet, marital status, and physical activity level, which can all influence depression risk. Heavy drinkers appear to have an increased risk of depression, although the results from the study were inconclusive as there was not a large enough sample size to be sure.
However, the study doesn’t account for social factors, which influence depression risk. People who drink moderately may be enjoying their glass or two of wine with a group of friends or family. Also, the sample size, while significant was limited to 55 to 80 year old men and women from Spain.
Does this mean we all should have a glass of red wine every day? Not necessarily. As with all new health information based on a single factor, this data should be taken with the knowledge that it is not proven to cure, treat, or prevent anything. The best advice might be that if you enjoy a glass of red wine every now and then, you might do well to continue for the health of your heart and brain. But if you’re not a fan, it’s not worth picking up the habit.
Source: BMC Medicine online, Alcohol intake, wine consumption and the development of depression: the PREDIMED study, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/11/192. Accessed 09/02/13.