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Blog: Don’t Drink Red Wine for Health Alone

Posted: Monday, 08 December 2014 17:59

Blog: Don’t Drink Red Wine for Health Alone

Dec 08: A new study reported in an article published in the November issue of the journal ‘Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology’ claims that the chemical Resveratrol found in grape skins and red wine may prevent cancer of the head and neck but this should not mean that the non drinkers should start drinking wine as a medicine, warns Subhash Arora

Click For Large View‘Do you drink red wine? If not, then start today if you want to keep this deadly disease at bay. Experts at University of Colorado's Cancer Centre have discovered that a compound called Resveratrol in red wine and grape skin has the ability to fight head and neck cancer,’ reported  Gizmodo. But the Article should not make you run to the department store to pick up a case of wine as a medicine especially if you are a teetotaller!

Robert Sclafani, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the CU School of Medicine explains in a recent study that although alcohol is harmful and may cause neck and head cancer, red wine may actually protect you against it.

While the details of the study may be viewed on the website of Colorado Cancer Blog for the original news report, nowhere does it inspire you to start drinking wine in order to keep this deadly disease at bay. In fact, according to Sclafani and I quote, ‘the Resveratrol in red wine (and other chemo-preventive chemicals found in grape seed extract) isn’t a magic bullet that can completely undo the cancer-causing effects of alcohol, but by killing the most dangerous cells it may decrease the probability that alcohol use will cause cancer.’

Several studies have shown over the years, the positive effects of wine, especially red wine-and especially for the heart. Results for the effect on cancer have been inconsistent and controversial except that more than a glass of wine a day could marginally increase the chance of breast cancer for women by more than one study. Most studies are empirical-they are either based on surveys, interviews or analysis of the data collated from the subjects. Although wine or alcohol may be the focus of the study, there are so many other variables that may be overlooked. For instance, it is commonly accepted that those who drink wine regularly are generally better educated, go to the gym regularly for exercise, watch their diets and drink moderately.

To start drinking or encouraging someone to drink more wine in order to reduce the chance of getting head or neck cancer seems to be absurd, at the outset. I would never encourage a teetotaller to start drinking wine only to get the medical benefits. There may be personal reasons for someone not to drink alcohol- it could be religion, social mores, pregnancy for women, taking antibiotics, or simply a dislike for alcohol, for instance. In India, frequently people get headaches from wine drinking. It may not be the best suggestion to make people start drinking wine until the day arrives when the benefits claimed are not mere statistics and probabilities but there is a universal agreement that wine has positive benefits.

Of course, one would be able to convince a reasonably mature person that drinking unlimited wine or binge drinking would be harmful to liver, kidneys and that many diseases  are waiting in the wings with alcohol abuse. Of course, if someone drinks hard liquor, he or she should be convinced to switch to wine to stay healthy. Wine is a healthy, lifestyle food product and should be encouraged as such-preferably with food.

I never have and never will advise someone, ‘Do you drink red wine? If not, then start today if you want to keep this deadly disease at bay.’ Wine is not medicine although it has medicinal properties when taken in moderation. Let there be no doubt that it is primarily a food product that has become glamorised for various reasons. But alcohol is the deadly variable that many journalists including wine journalists tend to overlook-and overdose of this variable can be harmful as many studies have shown.

It’s best to take the middle-of-the-road approach and make sure you drink wine in moderation-and stay healthy as a bonus. Don’t start drinking wine because a news report said you should start today to prevent against this (head or neck cancer) dreaded disease or any other.

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Resveratrol, Robert Sclafani, PhD


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