Q: I was recently diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Is it OK for me to drink wine?—Walter, Houston
A: Stomach ulcers are painful sores that can occur when the stomach lining's protective layer of mucus deteriorates, over-exposing the lining to stomach acid. There are many potential causes, but the two most common are infections of Helicobacter pylori bacteria and frequent use of anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Stomach ulcers are treatable with medications, most of which do not have interactions with alcohol. Gastroenterologists agree that moderate wine consumption will not worsen ulcers and could even prevent them.
University of Virginia gastroenterologist Dr. Dennis Kumral says that neither stress nor excessive alcohol intake have been shown to cause ulcers on their own, despite some common misconceptions. "In fact, there was a study that showed modest consumption of wine protected against the ulcer-forming bacteria H. Pylori," he told Wine Spectator.
According to gastroenterologist Dr. Lawrence Cohen of Mount Sinai's Icahn School of Medicine, white wine may be less irritating than red due to the decreased presence of tannins. He also suggests reducing wine consumption in certain situations. "If someone is recovering from a serious bleed or recent hospitalization from a gastric ulcer, it may be a good idea to minimize wine intake until the ulcer heals," Dr. Cohen told Wine Spectator. "Otherwise, wine should be enjoyed in moderation after consultation with your doctor."