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Red Wine Might Not Be as Protective Against COVID as Recent Study Suggested

© Pixabay/CC0Glass of red wine, bottle
Glass of red wine, bottle - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.02.2022
The original study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition made headlines in January, because who would mind drinking red wine instead of wearing pesky masks?
A recent study that claimed that drinking between one and five glasses of wine per week could reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 by up to 17% might not be as accurate as previously believed, Science Alert, an outlet focusing on acute scientific news, suggested in its review of the research.
The study, carried out by scientists from several Chinese hospitals, medical centres and the Third Military Medical University, suggested that drinking between one and four glasses per week reduced the risk of catching coronavirus by 10% and five and more glasses – by up to 17%. According to them, white wine and champagne had a smaller effect, while beer and strong alcohol had negative effects at times.
Science Alert pointed out that despite having an impressive number of participants, the study, which was published in Frontiers in Nutrition last month, like many other nutritional studies, simply looked at consumption patterns and compared them with the number of COVID diagnoses. While this method is good for determining a correlation, the outlet pointed out, the correlation itself is not sufficient to make conclusions about a causal link.
In other words, all a person can tell from the data is that normally regular consumption of wine has coincided with rarer COVID-19 cases, but it cannot conclude that wine helped protect the participants from the virus.
The science news outlet stressed that since the participants were living their lives normally, and that the researchers were simply assessing two factors – alcohol consumption and COVID cases – they had no way of knowing if some other factor actually impacted their chances of not contracting coronavirus. The outlet stressed that while the scientists took steps to rule out the impact of such general factors as age, sex, and education level, they couldn't possibly rule all of them out.
Furthermore, the participants' alcohol preferences and consumption levels were studied only in the first weeks of the research and not throughout its length, meaning that some of their behaviours could have changed during the process – creating a great potential for error, the Science Alert pointed out. The data on alcohol consumption was reported by the participants themselves, raising questions about its reliability, the outlet added. As misreporting varies greatly between participants in these types of nutritional studies, It is hard to make corrections for it, the outlet stated.
While red wine drinking could be a more pleasant way to protect oneself against coronavirus for at least some of us (if not many), it's hardly a go-to method even if the Chinese research is correct in its conclusions, the Science Alert notes. Not only did the level of COVID-19 infection not differ much between wine drinkers and non-drinkers, but the study also does not evaluate the tradeoffs of this method in terms of potential harm to health from continued and regular consumption of alcohol, the outlet elaborated. It seems that in the battle against the virus, we're left with just masks, social distancing and vaccines (for the time being at least).
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