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June Russell's Health Facts

Health Benefits of Alcohol Questioned — Specific Topics

Macular Degeneration

Studies regarding the effects of alcohol on macular degeneration are presently inconclusive and further study is warranted. For example:

  • Alcohol is a risk factor for macular degeneration.
    { -1999}
  • Consumption of wine was associated with a 19% reduction of macular degeneration.
    {Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 1997}
  • Population studies do not prove cause and effect, but wine, particularly red wine, contains compounds found in the grape which may be beneficial for the eyes.
    {Comment by the editor of Nutrition and Healing newsletter, March 1998}
  • A study that drinking wine may cut the rate of macular degeneration in half was flawed and inconclusive. For example, the study counted people as ‘wine drinkers’ if they only had one glass of wine a year. It did not show how much wine you had to drink and for how long to reduce your risk.
    {“Weakly News,” UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, April 1998}
  • The purported benefits of wine remain unproven, and population studies do not prove cause and effect. However, wine does have compounds such as phenolics and flavonoids which may be beneficial for the eyes.
    {“Does Wine Prevent Macular Degeneration?” Nutrition and Healing newsletter, March 1998}
  • To keep eyes healthy, reduce alcohol intake, says Dr. Marc Grossman, practitioner of behavioral optometry and co-author of the book, “Natural Eye Care.”
  • In addition to certain foods, a study indicated that moderate wine consumption may be beneficial for macular degeneration, a common eye disease in older adults. Other types of alcohol were not as effective: nineteen percent less likely.
    {“New Ways to Protect your Vision,” The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, May 1998}

In 1998, a study found that AMD (age-related macular degeneration) was less common among moderate wine drinkers, but an analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study (12,000 registered nurses studied for 20 years) found that low to moderate alcohol consumption was not protective. This report was in the May 2000 issue of Archives of Ophthalmology. Don't depend on alcohol to protect your eyes. Several of the long-term eye-disease investigations have suggested that vitamins A, C, and E are protective against eye disease, as well as lutein and possibly zeaxanthin.
{“What You Can Do to Protect Your Eyes,” Harvard Health Letter, October 2001} Author’s comment: Alcohol interferes with the absorption of nutrients.

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