It’s a common misconception that wine is a harmless beverage.
Many wine drinkers have an extreme taste for it, and it can even affect their health.
But according to a new study, a small percentage of people are allergic to wine and are therefore at risk of developing a nasty reaction.
“Most people think that wine isn’t a dangerous thing,” says Dr. Paul Whelan, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
“It’s actually more dangerous than many of the other things we consume in the US.
It’s more than 5 times as likely to cause an allergic reaction as coffee, more than half as likely as chocolate, more likely than meat, and more likely to be a source of choking hazard than aspirin.”
“So what you’re really looking at is a person who has a predisposition to developing allergic reactions to certain food components, like wine,” Whelam says.
“And if you look at the number of people who have the symptoms of an allergy to wine, it’s just as high as to having an allergic response to coffee.”
Whelans team published its findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and has now tested hundreds of thousands of people to see how many are allergic.
They found that only about 1% of the participants in the study were allergic to any type of wine, which is a far cry from the 10% to 20% of Americans who are allergic every day.
Whelanas team didn’t examine whether the wine caused the reactions.
“But what we did see was that when we looked at the wine in the bottle, we found that about 10% of people were sensitive to it, which indicates that people are sensitive to the chemical,” he says.
Wine is not an allergen, but it can cause a variety of reactions in people, including headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and dizziness.
Whetstone, of the Institute for Food and Agriculture Research in England, has been studying the wine industry for decades.
“Wine is one of the biggest food ingredients in the world, but there is a huge range of allergic reactions, from mild reactions to more severe reactions,” he explains.
The more severe a reaction, the higher the risk of an allergic attack.
Whedones team also found that people who were allergic in the past had an increased risk of being allergic in future, but had the lowest allergic responses in the age group 25 to 54 years old.
The researchers also noticed that wine drinkers were more likely and more frequently to develop allergies than non-wine drinkers.
“If you think of wine as the best source of protein and fat, and a good source of vitamins, it makes sense that it would have a positive impact on our immune system,” Whetstones team says.
They suggest that the higher prevalence of allergy among wine drinkers is likely due to the presence of certain chemicals found in wine that can be highly irritating to the skin, nose, mouth, and throat.
“There is a lot of evidence that wine also contains ingredients that are toxic to the immune system, so if you drink a lot, you may be at higher risk,” says Whelaman.
“I don’t think that you should be drinking more than a cup a day, but the research is showing that there are different thresholds that are needed to be allergic to certain things.”