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4 Ways Wine Can Take Years Off Your Life, According to Science

Here are just four reasons to scale back on the pinot grigio.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan
Pour glass red wine

Red wine may just be the healthiest alcoholic beverage of them all, however, too much of anything—even something as antioxidant-filled as a glass of pinot noir—has its consequences.

At the end of 2020, a study revealed that drinking red wine and eating cheese was associated with improved cognitive function. But wait, before you run out and buy out the red wine selection at your nearest liquor store, just know that drinking too much of the stuff can lead to adverse health complications, some of which can even be deadly. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).

Below, you'll see just four ways heavy wine consumption could take years off of your life.

1

May increase the risk of stroke.

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When it comes to drinking alcohol, know that any consumption can put you at risk of stroke—this includes wine. For example, a 2019 genetic study published in The Lancet dismissed the claims around moderate alcohol consumption (1-2 drinks a day) may protect against stroke.

The study, which involved 160,000 adults, revealed that men who drank four alcoholic beverages a day had on average a 38% increased risk of stroke. Only a few women who participated in the study drank alcohol so researchers couldn't properly assess the impact alcohol had on their risk of stroke.

According to the CDC, 1 in every 6 deaths from cardiovascular disease was due to stroke in 2018. The risk of stroke increase with age, so consider lowering your wine intake to just a few glasses a week in order to reduce your risk.

2

Increased risk of liver cirrhosis.

Middle-aged loving couple have a romantic dinner
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Drinking too much wine over time could cause some serious damage to your liver, especially if you drink it daily. For example, the Million Women Study revealed that among the over 175,000 healthy, middle-aged women who drank seven or more alcoholic drinks each week, those who drank daily were at higher risk of developing liver cirrhosis (late-stage scarring) than women who didn't drink daily.     

Liver cirrhosis is often caused by many forms of liver diseases and even conditions such as chronic alcoholism. If not managed, it can lead to various health complications including liver cancer and bone disease, so be sure to not be so generous with your pour!

3

Elevated risk of pancreatitis.

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According to the American Addiction Centers, heavy alcohol consumption is associated with pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas. Not only is the condition very painful, but it could also cause death if symptoms aren't managed early on. Chronic alcohol consumption over the course of several years can lead to acute pancreatitis, which is a painful attack that develops quickly and can last for days.

Research has indicated that about 1 in 3 cases of acute pancreatitis in the U.S. are caused by alcohol, and if repeated cases of this condition occur, it can turn into chronic pancreatitis. While those who heavily drink are at the highest risk of developing pancreatitis, it's still a good reminder to limit your wine consumption, if not to save yourself from a brutal hangover, but for the health of your pancreas.

4

May shorten your life by 1-2 years.

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According to a 2018 study published in The Lancet, of the near-600,000 adults who reported drinking alcohol analyzed, none of which previously had cardiovascular disease, over 40,000 deaths occurred. Scientists recorded a positive association between all-cause mortality and the level of alcohol consumed—the people who had the lowest risk of death only consuming about 100 grams of alcohol (about six glasses of wine) per week. When they took a closer look at the results, they estimated that consuming between 10 and 15 alcoholic beverages every week (1-2 drinks each day) may shorten a person's life by as much as 1-2 years. 

For more, be sure to check out People Who Should Never Drink Wine, According to an Expert.

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more