Drinking wine in moderation has been reported to have health benefits, including cardiovascular health. A new study by Spanish researchers has reported that moderate wine consumption can ease depression. However, they warn that heavy consumption can have the opposite effect.
They published their results online on August 30 in the journal BMC Medicine.
The researchers note that alcoholic beverages are widely consumed in many areas around the globe and that consumption of them is steadily increasing. In addition, they point out that depression is the most prevalent mental disorder worldwide, and its rate is also steadily decreasing. A number of studies have linked alcohol intake to depression. To clarify the situation, the researchers conducted a prospective (forward-looking) study to assess the association between alcohol intake and depression by repetitive measurement of alcohol intake.
The investigators followed 5,505 older Mediterranean men and women (average age: 67 years; range: 55 to 80 years) for up to seven years. The subjects were enrolled in the PREDIMED Trial and were initially free of depression or a history of depression; furthermore, they did not have any history of alcohol-related problems. A 137-item validated food frequency questionnaire administered by a dietician was repeated annually to assess alcohol intake. The participants were classified as being depressed when they reported a new clinical diagnosis of depression, and/or began using antidepressant drugs. A type of statistical analysis known as Cox regression analysis were conducted that analyzed 23,655 person-years of data.
The researchers found that moderate alcohol intake within the range of 5 to 15 grams/day was significantly associated with lower risk of depression. Men and women who drank two to seven small glasses of wine each week were 30% less likely to develop depression, compared with abstainers. (A small glass of wine contains about 9 grams of pure alcohol). Higher alcohol intake was positively associated with being male (88% of participants drinking more than 15 g/day were male), practicing more leisure-time physical activity, being a current or former smoker, having higher total energy intake, being married; however, higher consumption was inversely associated with educational level. The investigators attempted to assess the association for those participants who drank more than 40 grams/day; they found that they were at higher risk but this association was not statistically significant, probably due to the small number of heavy drinkers
The authors concluded that moderate consumption of wine may reduce the incidence of depression, while heavy drinkers seem to be at higher risk.