Certain constituents in red wine may be able to reverse some of the damage caused by cigarettes, suggests a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Vienna last week.
The small study found that red wine, but not its alcohol content, counteracted acute arterial dysfunction left by cigarettes. The researchers from Alexandra Hospital in Athens, Greece, reported that a dose of two glasses (250 ml) of red wine eradicated the harmful effect of one cigarette. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The team assessed the arterial function of 16 healthy adults after smoking one cigarette. They also measured the effects on this group of drinking two glasses of a Greek red wine, which had had the alcohol removed, and smoking one cigarette and again after drinking two glasses of normal red wine and smoking one cigarette.
The researchers claim that the non-alcoholic wine was tested against the original wine, to guarantee that there were no differences in flavour, colour and taste and constituents, except from their alcohol content. This means that volunteers could not distinguish which type of red wine they consumed each time.
Results confirmed previous findings that after smoking one cigarette and for the following 60 minutes there is a significant arterial dysfunction. However, simultaneous consumption of either regular red wine or non-alcoholic red wine with smoking one cigarette did not cause any such dysfunction.
"Since the presence or absence of alcohol on the two types of wine didn't influence the results, we can conclude that constituents of red wine other than alcohol are responsible for the reversal of arterial dysfunction caused by smoking," said the researchers.
John Lekakis and Christos Papamichael from the Department of Clinical Therapeutics in Alexandra University Hospital added that the findings do not prove that regular consumption of red wine could reduce the harmful effect of chronic smoking.
They also said that smokers should not be advised to drink two glasses of red wine for every cigarette smoked in order to protect blood vessels.
However the study shows that red wine contains substances that are powerful enough to counteract the harmful effect of smoking on arterial function, which could lead to the discovery of substances capable of reversing the harmful effects of smoke.
Future studies should investigate which specific component or components of red wine are responsible for the reversal of smoke's acute harmful effects and possibly enable large trials to investigate protection against habitual smoking, suggested the researchers.