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Study on Diabetics Old Wine in New Bottle

Posted: Tuesday, 20 October 2015 14:19


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Study on Diabetics Old Wine in New Bottle

Oct 20: A study conducted in Ben Gurion University in Israel suggesting that a glass of red wine every night may help people with type II diabetes manage their cholesterol and cardiac health is mere validation of several studies conducted during the last two decades, even though it is criticised by some Indian doctors, writes Subhash Arora wondering if they are prejudiced or ignorant when making such statements

People with diabetes are known to be more susceptible to developing cardiovascular diseases than the general population. They have lower levels of HDL-the good cholesterol. "Red wine was found to be superior in improving overall metabolic profiles, mainly by modestly improving the lipid profile, by increasing good (HDL) cholesterol and apolipo-protein A1 (one of the major constituents of HDL cholesterol), while decreasing the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol," the researchers have found.

Several previous studies have also arrived at a similar conclusion for red wines. However, the two-year randomised controlled trial led by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) claim to have found that both red and white wine can improve sugar control, depending on alcohol metabolism genetic profiling. Earlier studies focused on red wines because of the presence of Resveratrol in them. Researchers aimed to assess the effects and safety of initiating moderate alcohol consumption in diabetics, and sought to determine whether the type of wine matters, according to a report in DNA India

The new study randomly assigned 224 patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes to drink 150 mL of mineral water, white wine, or red wine with dinner for two years and then measured their lipid and glycemic control profiles. After two years, patients who drank wine had decreased cardio-metabolic risks compared to patients who drank mineral water. The red wine drinkers experienced the most significant changes in lipid variables, suggesting the potential synergy of moderate alcohol intake with specific non-alcoholic wine constituents," notes the study.

Approximately one in five participants was found to be a fast alcohol-metaboliser. Wine of either type did not affect blood pressure, liver function tests, or had any adverse symptoms. However, sleep quality was significantly improved in both wine groups, compared with the water control group.
"The differences found between red and white wines were opposed to our original hypothesis that the beneficial effects of wine are mediated predominantly by the alcohol," said BGU's Professor Iris Shai, principal investigator of the CASCADE trial. "Approximately 150ml of the dry red or white tested wines contained 17g ethanol and 120kCal, but the red wine had seven-fold higher levels of total phenols and 4 to 13-fold higher levels of the specific resveratrol group compounds than the white wine,” adding, "The genetic interactions suggest that ethanol plays an important role in glucose metabolism, while red wine's effects additionally involve non-alcoholic constituents,” according to the report in TOI.

Indian doctors prejudiced or ignorant?

Every time a study comes out looking positive for diabetes, heart or another disease affected by wine, many Indian doctors are skeptical at best. According to the TOI report Dr. Anoop Misra, an endocrinologist with Fortis Hospital in Delhi is cautious and slightly prejudiced when he says, "We knew, from a few previous studies, that mild-moderate alcohol consumption may not be harmful for the body. However, this study must be interpreted carefully in Indians since they have overload of fat in liver and pancreas, and alcohol may increase it."

But Dr. Shashank Joshi, an endocrinologist with Lilavati Hospital in Bandra appears not only prejudiced but also slightly ignorant as he reportedly says, "It's ridiculous to suggest that Indians who don't have the Mediterranean diet (which includes wine) should take wine. Moreover, the American Diabetes Association too restrains wine intake and recommends only 60 ml twice a week." He couldn’t be more wrong.

According to the official website of American Diabetes Association, and I quote, ‘Research has shown that there can be some health benefits such as reducing risk for heart disease. But, moderation is important. If you have any questions about whether alcohol is safe for you, check with your doctor. People with diabetes should follow the same guidelines as those without diabetes if they choose to drink: Women should have no more than 1 drink per day. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day.

The website defines one drink is equal to a 12 oz beer, 5 oz glass (150 mL) of wine or 1 ½ oz (45 mL) distilled spirits (vodka, whiskey, gin, etc.)

The recommendations have been based on dozens of studies which have established that there is a J-Curve relationship in the consumption of wine and alcohol and the effects thereof. Benefits have been noted in case of heart health, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes with one standard glass of drink. These benefits increase with the second glass- but with third glass onwards the negative impact takes place and the deterioration rate is much faster. The results have been clear that the drink of wine or alcohol must be a glass or two per person. Women are advised generally lower dosage because of the body structure and a significant increase in the risk of breast cancer after one standard drink.

The advisory of wine is independent of the Mediterranean diet-implying that although this is a recommended diet, the positive effects of a glass or two of wine may be enjoyed with any food, even Indian, Chinese or Japanese food.

The researches should have considered the study with one glass and three glasses of wine, in addition to the two-glass study that has been reported. Perhaps, the results would corroborate what has been already discovered from earlier research. It might be worth their while to have the same study-only changing the level of intake.

The Study has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal. For an earlier related Article, visit

Subhash Arora

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Tags: Ben Gurion University, diabetes, Resveratrol, red wine, Professor Iris Shai, CASCADE trial


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