The health effects of wine are mainly determined by its active ingredient alcohol. Some studies found that, when comparing people who consume alcohol, drinking small quantities of alcohol (up to one standard drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men) is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome and early death. However, other studies found no such effects.
Drinking more than the standard drink amount increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, stroke and cancer. Mixed results are also observed in light drinking and cancer mortality.
Risk is greater in young people due to binge drinking which may result in violence or accidents. About 88,000 deaths in the US are estimated to be due to alcohol each year. Alcoholism reduces a person’s life expectancy by around ten years and excessive alcohol use is the third leading cause of early death in the United States. According to systematic reviews and medical associations, people who are nondrinkers should not start drinking wine.
Wine has a long history of use as an early form of medication, being recommended variously as a safe alternative to drinking water, an antiseptic for treating wounds, a digestive aid, and as a cure for a wide range of ailments including lethargy, diarrhea and pain from child birth. Ancient Egyptian papyri and Sumerian tablets dating back to 2200 BC detail the medicinal role of wine, making it the world’s oldest documented human-made medicine.: 433 Wine continued to play a major role in medicine until the late 19th and early 20th century, when changing opinions and medical research on alcohol and alcoholism cast doubt on its role as part of a healthy lifestyle.