A Sip of Wine for Your Troubles

Moderate wine drinkers may have a lower risk of depression than non drinkers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Enjoying a glass of wine with your dinner may be helping to protect your mental health.

A recent study found that people who drank between two and seven glasses of wine each week had a lower risk of depression than people who drank no wine.

The study findings also suggested that too much of a good thing may be bad for you. The authors noted that having too much wine may lead to a higher risk of depression and that people should be careful not to drink too much.

"Enjoy your wine in moderation."

This study was led by Miguel A. Martínez-González, PhD, of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at Medical School - Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. The research team examined the relationship between alcohol intake, specifically wine, and depression in a group of older adults in Spain.

This study involved 5,505 participants from the Prevention with Mediterranean Diet (PREDIMED) study who were between the ages of 55 and 80, did not have a history of alcohol-related problems and did not have depression or a history of depression. Participants were followed for up to seven years.

Alcohol intake was recorded at the beginning of the study and at incremental two-year follow-ups. Participants responded to nine questions asking about their consumption of different alcoholic beverages. Depression was confirmed through a doctor's diagnosis.

Based on their average number of weekly drinks of wine, participants were split into five categories: abstainers (drank no wine), less than one drink per week, one to less than two drinks per week, two to seven drinks per week and more than seven drinks per week.

Several factors were taken into account that could have influenced depression, including age, sex, smoking status, physical activity, total energy intake, body mass index (a measure of height and weight), marital status, education and the number of persons living at home.

The researchers found that people who reported having between two and seven glasses of wine per week at the beginning of the study had a 32 percent lower risk of depression than people who drank no wine.

An even lower risk of depression was found for this group at follow-up. People who had between two and seven glasses of wine per week had a 43 percent lower risk of depression at follow-up than people who drank no wine.

The researchers also found a higher risk for heavy wine drinkers but noted it was not significant probably because of the small number of heavy drinkers in their sample.

The study authors concluded that moderate wine consumption may lower the risk of depression; however, individuals should be mindful of how much wine they drink because higher amounts of wine may increase the risk for depression.

Deborah Gordon, MD, a nutrition and preventive medicine expert not associated with the study told dailyRX news, "We have previously learned that moderate alcohol consumption is correlated with better overall health, and low to moderate red wine with reduced cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. It now appears that moderate wine intake is also correlated with a reduced risk of depression."

"Because it was not an interventional study (non-drinkers were not force-fed alcohol), but rather just a longitudinal study following different drinking habits, we do not know if people who tend to drink wine moderately are also people who tend to avoid depression - or if the two patterns are somehow causally related."

"In my mind, the study adds another verse to the song, but the chorus remains the same: if you already drink wine, moderate drinking may be helpful to your health; avoid heavy drinking; if you don't drink, we have no convincing reason for you to start," said Dr. Gordon. 

This study was published on August 30 in BMC Medicine.

Some of the study authors reported potential competing interests with organizations including the Research Foundation on Wine and Nutrition, Abbott Laboratories and AstraZeneca.

Review Date: 
September 4, 2013
Last Updated:
September 5, 2013