Can Red Wine Prevent Falls? 5 Benefits Of Drinking Alcohol

By Amir Khan on August 22, 2012 9:54 AM EDT

wine cork
Red wine may prevent falls -- what are some other benefits of drinking alcohol? (Photo: Creative Commons)

If you've ever been drunk, you know that holding yourself steady becomes challenge. However, red wine may actually help prevent falls, according to new research presented at the American Chemical Society meeting. The benefit comes from a red wine compound known as resveratrol, and researchers found that it may be able to improve seniors' mobility and prevent them from falling.

The researchers fed young and old mice a diet rich with the compound for eight weeks and charted their ability to cross a balance beam without falling. They found that although the older mice initially had more difficulty crossing the beam, their performance became equal to that of the younger mice after four weeks on the diet.

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"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population," Jane Cavanaugh, lead researcher, said, according to the Huffington Post. "And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls."

However, before you use this as an excuse to drink a bottle of wine per day, researchers cautioned that the human body does not absorb resveratrol well, and said that you would have to drink 700 4-ounce glasses of wine per day to see the same benefit that the mice did. But even a small benefit would be worth it, the researchers said.

"This small margin could potentially be enough to help older people remain steady on their feet and avoid taking serious tumbles," Cavanaugh said.

This isn't the first time alcohol consumption has been linked to beneficial effects. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to lower the risk of a variety of diseases and conditions.

One study found that drinking a drink per day could ward off bone loss and osteoporosis. Researchers looked at 360 people, and found that moderate drinkers had "significantly" higher bone density than people who did not drink.

Another study found that a drink a day could help stave off hearing loss. Researchers tested the hearing of the over 3,500 people residing in Beaver Dam, Wis., in 1987 and 1988 and then again in 1993 and 1995. Residents who had two drinks a day had less hearing loss than people who didn't drink or drank in excess of 4 drinks a day.

Alcohol consumption can also reduce the risk for diabetes. A 20-year long Finnish study found that people who drink moderately are much less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. he survey began in 1975 and tracked all same-sex twins born in Finland since 1958. The twins answered questionnaires about their alcohol use, diet, physical activity and medical history in 1975, 1981 and 1990. The follow-up found only 580 cases of type 2 diabetes out of the almost 23,000 people tracked over the course of the study.

Researchers found that moderate consumption can prevent dementia as well. Researchers followed almost 6,000 adults ages 65 and older and found moderate drinkers had a 54 percent less chance of developing dementia than non-drinkers.

However, researchers warn that alcohol use comes with drawbacks. It has been linked to increased cancer risk and heart and liver disease, so they stress that moderation is key.

"The message continues to be know your health, maintain your health, see your doctor regularly and understand your risk for cancer and heart disease,"  Susan Gapstur, vice president of epidemiology research at the American Cancer Society, told ABC News.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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