Q: My father has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Is it OK for him to drink wine?—Rebekah, Sedona, Ariz.
A: Parkinson's disease is a nervous system disorder that affects movement, often including tremors. Research on wine consumption and brain health has found mixed results, but neurology experts say there is no harm in having an occasional glass of wine for people with Parkinson's.
In a recent study, Parkinson's researcher Dr. Xiang Gao of Shanghai's Fudan University School of Public Health, observed that light to moderate wine consumption (about three glasses per week) could be associated with lower mortality among those with Parkinson's. But Gao does not encourage non-drinkers to start. Instead, he advises people who do drink to consider shifting to red wine and to consume in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women and two for men). Gao adds that there is no strong evidence regarding risks of wine consumption for those with Parkinson’s.
But mixing Parkinson's medication with alcohol could have a dangerous effect. "Many people with Parkinson's disease can still enjoy an occasional glass of wine," Dr. Margaret Rice, a neurosurgery professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told Wine Spectator. "That said, alcohol can interact with some medications used to treat Parkinson's." Parkinson’s sufferers who wish to consume wine should speak to their doctor about which medications they’re taking and how they might interact with alcohol.—Shawn Zylberberg