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Ugly Side Effects of Wine You Don't Even Know About, According to Science

You may think it's heart healthy, but that glass of wine could be causing long-term damage to your body.

If you like to relax with a glass of wine at the end of a long day, you're not alone. According to the Wine Institute, the average American adult drinks approximately 2.95 gallons of wine per year. (That's gallons!)

While wine is frequently lauded for its heart health benefits, that glass of vino could be doing a number on the rest of your body in the process. Read on to discover the side effects of wine experts want you to know about before you take that next sip. And if you're ready to go cold turkey, check out I Gave Up Alcohol For An Entire Month and Saw Serious Results.

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You could develop heart problems.

mature man having heart attack at home

Red wine has long been said to benefit a person's cardiovascular health, particularly in terms of lowering blood pressure and heart attack risk. However, experts say that regular wine consumption could have serious side effects for your heart, including atrial fibrillation, a type of rapid, sometimes irregular, heartbeat.

Heather Hanks, a nutritionist with Instapot Life, says cites a January 2021 study published in the European Heart Journal, which suggests that even a single daily alcoholic drink can increase a person's risk of atrial fibrillation by 16%.

"This goes against the previous advice to drink a glass of red wine each day for heart health, as atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of more serious complications, like stroke," says Hanks.

You could develop cirrhosis.

Woman sitting on the bed and touching her left side in pain at home

Long term consumption of any type of alcohol, including wine, can lead to serious liver health issues, including cirrhosis. According to 2015 research from the European Association for the Study of the Liver, increasing alcohol consumption past the "moderate" threshold—up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men—can increase the prevalence of alcohol-induced cirrhosis by 11.13%. And if you want to protect your liver, start by ditching these Drinking Habits That Cause Liver Damage, According to Science.

Your risk of breast cancer may rise.

breast exam

If you have a history of breast cancer in your family, you may want to cut that nightcap out now. "Even moderate drinking seems to increase the risk of breast cancer, rather than decrease it," explains Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM, of Dr. Lam Coaching.

In fact, according to a 2006 study published in the Annals of Epidemiology, just one to two drinks a day can increase a person's breast cancer risk between 30 and 50%.

You may be more likely to develop esophageal cancer.

Doctor Performing Physical Exam Palpation Of The Thyroid Gland

It's not just breast cancer risk that increases with your alcohol consumption. "Tongue and esophageal cancer have a high correlation with drinking wine," says Bracha Banayan, a licensed nurse practitioner and CEO of IVDRIPS. In fact, according to a 2017 study published in PLoS One, even drinking one alcoholic beverage a day is associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer. Yes, just a single glass can have a big effect on your health: The Danger of Drinking One Small Glass of Wine Per Day, According to Science.

You'll get less restful sleep.

Sad Woman Lying On Bed

A glass of wine in the evening may make you feel sleepy, but there's another side effect of drinking wine that you might not be expecting: you'll actually get worse sleep after consuming it.

"Drinking alcohol reduces the Rapid Eye Movement sleep, an essential part of the sleep cycle connected to physical and emotional health," explains Stephen Light, a certified sleep science coach and co-founder of Nolah Mattress. "[You'll] wake up feeling tired even if you slept a good number of hours." And if you want to combat that energy slump, discover the 30 Best Foods That Give You All-Day Energy.

You may develop rosacea.

woman with rosacea on her cheeks

Want to keep your skin clear and healthy? You might want to skip that glass of wine.

"Studies have shown an increase in the number of blood vessels in the cheeks in wine drinkers," says Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Zelen Life Dermatology. "Only visible blood vessels are notably increased in heavy versus moderate drinkers of wine—this supports the idea that wine is associated with rosacea." Want to get back your glow? Start with these 22 Foods That Will Immediately Improve Your Skin, According to Dermatologists.

Your PMS may get worse.

Woman holding stomach cramps digestive problems

Think a glass of wine is just the thing to help ease those PMS symptoms? Think again.

One of the lesser-known side effects of drinking wine is "worsened symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder," as well as potential cycle changes, according to Ilene Ruhoy, MD, PhD, a member of the Jetson Gut Council.

"This may be due to hormonal changes from gut inflammation due to direct exposure to alcohol, but also due to the effects of compounds from the metabolism of alcohol," Ruhoy explains.

If any of these side effects have turned you off the booze, check out what happens if you decide to ditch it: Side Effects of Giving Up Wine, According to Science


Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more about Sarah