DRINKING RED WINE is widely regarded as protective against cardiovascular disease. A report published in the american journal of medicine has found that a glass or two of red wine before lighting up a cigarette can counteract some of the short-term negative effects of smoking on blood vessels. The study examined the effects of smoking on 2O healthy non-smokers who volunteered to smoke three cigarettes. Half of the subjects drank red wine one hour before smoking, in an amount calculated to result in O.O75% blood alcohol content. Blood and urine were collected before and after drinking and smoking and continued until 18 hours after smoking. When the results were tallied up, the researchers found that a few of the many damaging things that cigarettes do were counteracted by a few of the many beneficial things that red wine does to the body. Here are the specifics: smoking releases particles from endothelial cells, platelets, and monocytes that indicate cells in the blood vessels are hurting. The test subjects who drank wine first didn’t have any cellular changes. Telomeres (the “protective caps” on chromosomes) have a 56 percent decrease in telomerase activity while those who drank before only had a 2O percent decrease. The researchers listed the high phenol concentration in red wine as one of the possible reasons for its cell-saving properties. Keep in mind: everything found here is for the short-term negative effects of cigarettes and for “social smokers”. Since the study was limited to young, healthy nonsmokers, it is not clear whether these findings apply to the elderly, the ill or chronic smokers.