CAN MODERATE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION HELP PREVENT MACULAR DEGENERATION?
'Macular degeneration' is the leading cause of blindness in adults over age 65. Once the condition is diagnosed, there is no cure
Researchers at University Hospital in Washington, D.C., started out to test a hunch that alcohol could somehow contribute to this blinding eye disease. Dr Thomas Obesisan and his colleagues looked at data on more than 3,000 men and women who were between 45 and 74 years of age - 184 had evidence of the disorder.
A careful analysis unearthed an unexpected finding - alcohol, particularly wine, seemed to protect people from macular degeneration. Specifically, people who drank wine appeared 20 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who did not drink wine.
If further research confirms that moderate alcohol consumption can stave off the disorder, the findings would represent an important public health advance.
Although this study cannot explain how wine might shield the eye from macular degeneration, one theory is that free radicals, highly injurious oxygen molecules, may damage the macula, the part of the eye responsible for central vision. Wine contains a substance called resveratrol that helps disarm free radicals. Another theory is that macular degeneration is related to heart and blood vessel disease and alcohol may ward off macular degeneration through its beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system.
"Red wine is a major source of [resveratrol] in the diet. When taken in moderation, say one or two glasses per day, wine has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects of health." states Frank Caddy, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Drinks Industry Group. “ However, over indulging in wine, or any other alcohol, can actually damage your health so be smart and remember ‘Moderation – you know it makes sense!”
For further information contact Frank Caddy – telephone 028 90 422349
Ref: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 1998, 46, 1-7.