Buckle up for some good news, red wine loving smokers. A study recently published in The American Journal of Medicine found that drinking red wine an hour before smoking can counteract a few of the very harmful short-term effects cigarettes have on your blood vessels.
The health benefits of red wine (of which there are many) include lessening the damage from that other vice. No one is encouraging people to start smoking here, and definitely not to start regularly smoking. But social smokers, or people who engage in “occasional lifestyle smoking” as the study calls them, can light up with a little more confidence.
The study, which was completed by researchers from the University of Saarland in Germany, wasn’t entirely clear is what an “occasional lifestyle” smoker is. It was done on healthy nonsmokers, though, so pack a day people and the elderly are certainly out of luck when it comes to any cig and red wine benefits.
The researchers asked 20 non-smoking volunteers to suck down three cancer sticks. Half of them drank some red wine an hour ahead of time until their blood alcohol content hit .075 percent, just .005 percent below the legal driving limit. Well, the initial press release from The American Journal of Medicine said the subjects’ blood alcohol content was .75 percent, and a few publications like the Knowridge Science Report and The Independent ran with that. An inquiry from VinePair led to a revised press release with the corrected, less lethal number (whatever you do, do not try and get your blood alcohol level to .75 percent before smoking, because .4 percent is death).
Regardless, the subjects had blood and urine tests before and after drinking, as well as 18 hours after smoking.
When the results were tallied up, the researchers found that a few of the many damaging things that cigarettes do to your body were counteracted by a few of the many magical things that red wine does to your body.
Here are the specifics: Smoking releases particles from endothelial cells, platelets, and monocytes that indicate cells in the blood vessels are hurting. The test subjects who drank wine first didn’t have any cellular changes. Telomeres (the “protective caps” on chromosomes, the press release states) have a 56 percent decrease in telomerase activity, while those who drank before only had a 20 percent decrease.
The researchers listed the high phenol concentration in red wine as one of the possible reasons for it’s delicious cell-saving properties. Keep in mind though: Everything found here is for the short-term negative effects of cigarettes. Even red wine can’t save you from every day, longterm smoking.