Is Abstinence from Red Wine Hazardous to Your Health?

Is Abstinence from Red Wine Hazardous to Your Health?


Arthur L Klatsky, MD

Spring 2007 - Volume 11 Number 2

A Very Public Message

Hardly a month goes by without the appearance of a research finding suggesting that drinking red wine is good for you. The media publicity is never nuanced or subtle, so the headlines blare. Here are several recent ones: "Procyanidin-rich red wines reduce heart attack and mortality," "Resveratrol, a red-wine ingredient, improves health and survival in mice on a high-fat diet," and "Cabernet sauvignon red wine reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease." With the hint of greater longevity what non-red wine drinker wouldn't feel pressure to start a red wine habit? What person over age 65 years wouldn't consider a lifestyle change that promised a lower chance of Alzheimer's? The public has heard the implied message. A 60 Minutes TV broadcast (CBS: 1991 Nov 17) attributed lower heart attack risk in France partially to red wine. This explanation of the "French Paradox" (low coronary disease death rate despite relatively unfavorable life-style habits) has become widely known. Red wine sales in the US skyrocketed in the 1990s and remain high. In a recent Kaiser Permanente (KP) survey, 80% of those interviewed had heard of presumed benefit from alcohol and half of these volunteered that this was true only of red wine.1


Sponsored by the National Permanente Medical Groups, The Permanente Press publishes The Permanente Journal and books related to Kaiser Permanente and health care.


27,000 print readers per quarter, 9,725 eTOC readers, and in 2016, 1.4 million page views on TPJ articles in PubMed from a broad international readership.


Articles, editorials, letters to the editor, and other material represent the opinion of the authors. Send your comments to

Copyright 2017 The Permanente Journal - Kaiser Permanente. All Rights Reserved.