Glass of wine before smoking cigarette 'can prevent damage'
A glass of red wine before lighting up can prevent some of the harm caused by smoking, researchers claim.
The vino contains chemicals that protect against short-term damage to the lining of blood vessels, a study suggests.
Scientists investigated the effects of smoking on the blood and arteries of 20 healthy-non-smokers who volunteered to inhale from three cigarettes.
Half had a drink of red wine one hour before smoking, consuming an amount calculated to produce a blood alcohol level of 0.75%.
Drinking the wine prevented the release of micro-particles from artery walls, platelets and white blood cells that is known to indicate smoking damage.
It also reduced inflammation and slowed down a genetic ageing process in cells - linked to an enzyme, telomerase - that accelerates after smoking.
Telomerase activity in volunteers who did not have the wine fell by 56% after smoking but only by 20% in the drinkers.
Lead scientist Dr Viktoria Schwarz, from the University of Saarland in Homburg, Germany, said: "The aim of our study was to investigate the acute vascular effects of red wine consumption prior to 'occasional lifestyle smoking' in healthy individuals.
"We found evidence that pre-consumption of red wine prevented most of the vascular injury caused by smoking."
She added that since the study focused on young, healthy non-smokers it was not clear whether the findings would apply to the elderly, sick, or habitual smokers.
Dr Schwarz stressed that her team did not want to motivate occasional smokers to drink or occasional drinkers to smoke.
She added: "Nevertheless, this study identified mechanisms suitable to explore damage and protection on the vasculature in humans, paving the way for future clinical studies."
The research is reported in the American Journal Of Medicine.