Mention essential tremor, and most people give you a blank look. But for nearly 5 percent of seniors, uncontrollable trembling is a part of life. The good news, a current study suggests, is a lifetime of drinking red wine significantly reduces the risk of essential tremor, the official name for a pattern of involuntary, continuous movements that intensify with age.
The research comes from data gathered from neurological clinics across Southern and Central Italy. According to the research, published last week in the Wiley medical journal Movement Disorders, four or five glasses of red wine per day, for 30 years or so, provides the most benefit.
In fact, when the scientists compared nearly 100 married couples, where one spouse is healthy and the other suffers from essential tremor, those who drank four or five glasses of red wine daily had an 86 percent lower risk of developing tremors. At three glasses per day it stood at a 65 percent lower risk.
The text suggests that the antioxidants in red wine provide a long-term protective effect, but admits the results are by no means definitive. For one, studies on essential tremor, which occurs in 4.6 percent of people aged 65 years and over and may be linked to Parkinson's disease, are few in number. Previous studies have shown that alcohol is not a risk factor in developing Parkinson's disease. However, the jury is still out on any potential protective effects.
The study itself contains a few limitations. For example, of the 22 wine-drinking subjects who developed essential tremor during the study, 19 fit the lifestyle profile of the category with the least risk; drinking more than three glasses of red wine daily for more than 30 years.
"The results of our study must be interpreted cautiously," the authors write. "Case-control studies, in fact, are generally prone to several kinds of bias. Larger ad-hoc studies are still needed to assess the role of alcohol drinking as a protective factor for developing essential tremor."