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Delhi Wine Club
Need to Study Effects of Wine on Dementia

Posted: Monday, 16 April 2012 09:49

Wine and Health: Need to Study Effects of Wine on Dementia

Apr 16 : According to World Health Organization about 35.6 million people were suffering from dementia in 2010; this number is expected to double to 65.7 million by 2030 and 115.4 m in 2050, making it worth considering instituting more studies on effect of wine on dementia, many of which have already indicated that the antioxidants in wines help reduce the chance of getting the disease which is already costing £380 billion for annual care.

Dementia, a brain illness that affects memory, behaviour and the ability to perform even common tasks, affects mostly older people. About 70% of cases are believed to be caused by Alzheimer's. In the last few decades, dementia has become a major public health issue in rich countries. But with populations in poor and middle-income countries projected to grow and age rapidly over the coming decades, WHO appealed for greater public awareness and better support programmes everywhere. The share of cases in poor and middle-income countries is expected to increase from around 60% today, to over 70% by 2050, according to numerous media reports last week.

So far, only eight countries - including Britain, France and Japan - have national programmes to address dementia, WHO said. Several others, such as the United States, have plans at the state level. Emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil have functioning health care systems but do not have the capacity to deal with the massive rise in dementia, said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse in WHO. He says, "The WHO recognizes the size and complexity of the dementia challenge and urges countries to view dementia as a critical public health priority”.

One common misconception is that dementia is inevitable."Most people regard dementia as a normal sign of ageing, which is not correct," said Dr Saxena. "Older people have problems of memory and cognition, but dementia is a disease with much more rapid symptoms and progression."

Most dementia patients are cared for by relatives who shoulder the bulk of the current estimated annual cost of £380 billion. "The catastrophic cost drives millions of households below the poverty line," warns the DG, Margaret Chan. The financial burden is expected to rise even faster than the number of cases, WHO said in its first substantial report on the issue. While the report shies away from making specific recommendations to policy makers, it does urge them to address the challenges of dementia as soon as possible.

Wine and Dementia

Several studies conducted on the effects of wine and health during the last two decades or so, have concluded that it is good for the heart and even most cancers (except breast cancer), when taken in moderate quantity. A few have also indicated that the chances of dementia go down by as much as 85% with wine consumption. Scientists from Italy have found that one glass of wine a day slowed the onset of dementia by up to 85 per cent in people aged between 65 and 84 who already had mild cognitive impairments (MCI), according to a research study which was reported already in delWine:

Drinking wine in moderate amounts may reduce the risk of decline in thinking skills  in some people and may even protect against dementia, according to a study published in ‘Acta Neurologica Scandinavica’  by Norwegian researchers which concluded that wine drinkers perform better than teetotalers on cognitive tests. Researchers studied the drinking habits of 5,033 men and women of 58 years of average age over a seven-year period, including some teetotalers and found wine drinkers scoring better than teetotalers on a range of tests of cognitive function, or thinking skills. Details:

Even Champagne and other sparkling wines may be beneficial for dementia. A study published in 2007 said that sparkling wine had properties in it which provided protection for the brain against injuries common to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even stroke thanks to the high amount of polyphenols — an antioxidant known to combat cell damage. Scientists from Universita degli studi di Cagliari, Italy, and University of Reading, England, tested the benefits of Champagne on mice. They concluded that two substances found in polyphenols — caffeic acid and tyrosol — were responsible for this positive effect as they had an anti-inflammatory effect on the damaged area of the brain.

With billions of pounds being spent to manage the disease, it may well be worth conducting more studies on the effect of wine on dementia so that a clearer picture on the benefits apparent from the few studies undertaken so far, emerges. They need to be conducted scientifically and neutrally and there may not be another institution as good as WHO under whose tutelage the studies may be conducted.

For a related article of 2006, visit

Subhash Arora


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