Is Wine Good For You . . . Or Bad?

The pros and cons of drinking wine yo-yo up and down every time a new study hits the press and it can all be very confusing. Two studies have been published recently that make my point. Marie Claire reports that a “Glass of Wine a Day Could Increase Breast Cancer Risk” and the Daily Mail reports that “Red Wine Ingredient Protects Against Heart Disease and Diabetes”. Both studies were conducted by universities – Harvard and Maastricht.

The study from Harvard concerns the risk of breast cancer and was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It was based on 106,000 nurses in America who were followed up from 1980 until 2008:

Research has shown that by drinking four small glasses of wine a week, women are 15 per cent more likely to develop breast cancer. Those who drink up to two glasses a day increase their risk by 50 per cent.

“Our results highlight the importance of considering lifetime exposure when evaluating the effect of alcohol, and probably other dietary factors, on the carcinogenesis process,’ says Dr Wendy Chen, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

It is also believed that drinking alcohol raises the levels of the hormone oestrogen, which can spark the growth of tumours.”

The study from Maastricht discovered that an antioxidant found in red grapes can lower blood sugar levels and reduce blood pressure. The study was published in the Cell Metabolism Journal and was based on 11 obese men:

Known as resveratrol, the wonder substance which found in the skin of red grapes, is also thought to increase life expectancy.

A team from the Netherlands analysed the biological effects of resveratrol supplements in a group of 11 obese men.

After 30 days all of the men experienced a lower metabolic rate, less liver fat, lower blood sugar levels and reduced blood pressure.

Lead researcher Dr Patrick Schrauwe said: ‘We saw a lot of small effects but consistently pointing in a good direction of improved metabolic health.’ “

So what are we supposed to make of it all. Firstly I would recommend that you read the original studies at source if you are concerned.

Headlines can be misleading – for example other news sources headlined the Harvard study as “Red Wine Ingredient Mimics Exercise”, Red Wine May Improve the Health of Obese Men”, Red Wine Holds Key To Better Health” and “Red Wine Increases Metabolism” and the Maastricht study as “Two Glasses of Wine Are A Cancer Risk”.

Secondly a lot more research has to be done before any definitive conclusions can be drawn and thirdly not everyone is the same. How wine affects your health depends on your lifestyle, your general health and if you are genetically predisposed to these health issues.

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