In a shocking scenario bordering on bizarre, smelling of sensationalism and impregnated with ignorant and irresponsible rhetoric, scores of leading doctors participating in a national health summit organised by ASOCHAM in Delhi last Tuesday concurred that wine, beer or any alcohol could not be good for health.
Dismissing the widely held theory that red wine is good for health, leading Indian doctors Tuesday said that no one in the world has proved the positive side of either the red wine or any category of alcohol, reports IANS.
'I have gone through nearly 1.6 crores (16 million) articles on health and alcohol but none has proved that alcohol is good for health especially for heart,' said H. K. Chopra, chief cardiologist at Moolchand Medicity.
'It's simply a perception among people that taking red wine will do wonder for heart. Why don't they take grape juice instead?' Chopra, who is also the chairman of the World Heart Academy , said.
M.C. Mishra head of surgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here said: 'People drink alcohol, smoke five packets of cigarettes but never bother to take fruits. In the name of anti-oxidants, these wine companies promote wine and people blindly believe it.'
India needs more of health clubs and wellness centres rather than hospitals, said B.K. Rao chairman of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital .
'Most of our people are not health conscious. They take all junk foods, aerated drinks, alcohol and other unnecessary things and complain about the increasing disease burden.
'No one speaks about the benefits of exercise but are loud about wine. It's a worrying trend. We need good food and regular exercise to keep out heart healthy not red wine,' Rao told IANS on the sidelines of the summit.
S. C. Manchanda, a former head of cardiology at AIIMS expressed similar opinion and urged people to drink water instead of wine. 'Drink water, it will keep your body and mind clean.'
Shikha Sharma, a nutritionist also snubbed the idea of alcohol as a health enhancer. 'When people already have so much of burden, they cannot afford more with wine or any other form of alcohol. What we need is a balanced diet.'
Chopra also said that the growing nightclubs and pubs are just promoting alcohol among youngsters and it is worsening the situation. 'Sedentary lifestyle coupled with stress and alcohol are making the chronic disease scenario worst in India .'
Cardiologists of some of the known hospitals such as Moolchand Medicity, AIIMS, Max Heart & Vascular Institute and Ganga Ram Hospital took part in the debate. According to the cardiologists, wine intake adds toxic content to the human body. It damages and decays heart.
Therefore, cardiologists have suggested immediate ban on mushrooming pubs and bars in cities, especially in Delhi . Max Heart & Vascular Institute chairman Ashok Seth said ignorance among the people must be unfolded to discourage intake of alcohol and wine. The emergency health facilities in India are inadequate and hospitals are ill-equipped to look after patients.
Reacting to the 'ridiculous report', Dr. Tedd Goldfinger, a cardiologist from Arizona, USA, who is also the convenor of the International Wine and Heart Summit held biennially in Napa said he would reply to the report in a few days with facts and figures. So would Dr. Klatsky of San Francisco who is considered a pioneer in conducting heart and wine studies for a period of 20 years, the results of which were published tin1998. Dr. Curt Ellison of Boston and many other doctors who have been involved with serious studies of years and who do not comment on the social aspects have promised to send their rebuttal soon along with facts and figures.
In the meantime, our readers' views are solicited. Any facts presented to ASSOCHAM at this conference will also be sought along with possible interviews with the participating senior doctors who were present. I have been attending the international health and wine conferences in the USA and interacting with several cardiologists and educationists overseas. Their opinion based on the studies carried out so far is unanimous: wine or any alcohol when taken regularly in moderate quantity; 2 glasses a day, is positively good for the heart and many other health related issues without any harm to liver. Wine has anti-oxidants which have shown several additional benefits in different studies.
These studies are done by non-wine related funding, usually by the governments or some other foundation grants.
More than two glasses are however, harmful for liver, heart, BP and many other organs, and certainly not advised if one is driving afterwards. A glass of wine a day is now recommended in the Health food plan issued by the government in the US as also in Denmark and several other countries. In fact China has reduced duties on wine so people can shift from higher alcohol drinks to wine, considered good for health. Details will be published in forthcoming issues of delWine. Watch this space - editor
DelWine recommends moderate amount of wine consumption as a healthy lifestyle product regularly, preferably with meals. But if one does not drink alcohol for social, religion or moral reasons, one is advised not to start drinking.
Drink wine, quality wine, regularly but moderately -editor