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UofG research finds swapping beer and spirits for red wine with food lowers risk of disease

By Lucy Dunn

The cohort study found that spirits, beer and cider are associated with higher death rates, disease and injury compared to red wine.

Research at the University of Glasgow has investigated the effects of differing patterns of alcohol consumption, finding that red wine is more beneficial in the long-term than spirits and beer, and that eating alongside alcohol consumption is protective. 

The prospective cohort study selected over 300,000 subjects from the UK Biobank, with a criteria that excluded non-drinkers and those with certain health conditions. The study found that drinking spirits, beer or cider was associated with higher death rates, end-stage liver disease and injuries compared to red wine. The study also found that when pairing red wine with food, and spreading the average alcohol consumption over a greater number of days, the risks of both blood vessel problems and death were reduced. 

Spirit drinkers have a 25% higher risk of death and were 31% more likely to suffer a major heart problem compared with those who drank red wine, with similar stats found to match those who drank beer or cider. Spreading alcohol consumption over three to four days reduced risk of death by 9% as opposed to drinking the same amount over one to two days, and accompanying a drink with food was found to reduce risk of death by 10%. The Greater Glasgow and Clyde area has more serious alcohol problems than elsewhere in Scotland, the UK and even Western Europe. As stated by the NHS, Greater Glasgow and Clyde “has the worst four Local Authority areas in the UK for male deaths from alcohol and two of the four worst areas for women”. In correlation with this, Glasgow turns out to be home to the following medical tools, all of which are routinely used in the assessment of alcohol-related health conditions: the Glasgow Coma Scale, the Glasgow Blatchford Score, the Glasgow-Imrie Criteria for Acute Pancreatitis, and the Glasgow Alcoholic Hepatitis Score. Dr Bhautesh Jani, who conducted the more recent study, has continued the Glaswegian research tradition: adding to the already extensive list of alcohol-related research.


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