Beverage Alcohol against Polyps

Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan reported at a Digestive Diseases Weekly conference in May 2003 that a study of over 600 patients at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Centre in New York City showed that a glass or two a day of wine (or the equivalent in beer or spirits) reduces the occurrence of bowel polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer. Moreover, the effect appears to be cumulative: Those who drank one to two glasses per day had only 20% of the polyp incidence of non-drinkers. But those who had been moderate drinkers for over ten years tended to be free of polyps.

Wine and Melanoma

Dr. Richard Niles of Marshall University found that the same amount of resveratrol found in about two glasses of red wine was effective in killing two strains of melanoma (skin cancer) in lab tests. The results were reported in the February 20, 2003 edition of Cancer Letters.

More on Alcohol and Dementia

The Journal of the American Medical Association (March 19, 2003) carries a paper by Dr. Kenneth Mukmul of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston who studied the incidence of dementia among elderly Americans. He reports that light to moderate consumption of beverage alcohol (one to fourteen drinks a week) results in a lower incidence of dementia. However, heavy drinkers (over fourteen drinks a week) we more likely to suffer from dementia than non-drinkers.

Wine (and Beer) against Peptic Ulcers

A study in England by Liam Murray et al. (American Journal of Gastroenterology, Volume 97, Number 11, November 2002) found that subjects drinking 3–6 glasses of wine per week had an 11% lower risk of H. pylori infection compared with those who took no wine.  H. pylori may be the cause of peptic ulcers (holes in the wall of the stomach).  Higher wine consumption was associated with a further 6% reduction in the risk of infection.  Consumption of 3–6 glasses of beer per week (but no greater intake) was associated with a similar reduction in the risk of infection when compared to no beer intake

Health Promotion in Spain

A program financed by the EU and the Government of Spain will begin promoting the health benefits of moderate wine consumption to Spanish consumers.  The program, which will run for three years, will spend about one million Euros ($1.5 million CDN) to sponsor conferences and a traveling exhibit aimed at doctors, pharmacists, catering organizations, and the wine wine industry itself.  The basic message will be that moderate wine consumption is an integral part of the healthy Mediterranean diet.

Alcohol and Post-Menopausal Women

Good news for post-menopausal women! The Journal of the American Medical Association (May 15, 2002) reports on a study by Michael Davies and David Baer which found that beverage alcohol affects levels of triglycerides, glucose and insulin in the blood of post-menopausal women. Women who didn’t drink during the test period had the highest levels of all three of these risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Women who drank two standard drinks a day had the lowest levels, while those on one drink a day showed results intermediate to the other two.

The researchers attribute the blood findings to alcohol per se, but note that other compounds found in red wine may provide additional protection.

Alcohol and Dementia

Wine Spectator (May 31, 2002) reports on two recent European studies that claim that light to moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia among older people.

Monique Breteler et al. report their findings in the January 26, 2002 issue of Lancet. . Based on a study of 5,400 people in Rotterdam, the researchers believe that high cholesterol and blood clots contribute to dementia and that alcohol consumption reduces these vascular factors.

Guiseppe Zauccala et al. claim in the December issue of Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research that moderate wine consumption (less than half a litre per day for women and less than one litre per day for men) could lead to a lower risk of the onset of dementia.  The research covered 15,900 Italian patients.

Wine and Boron

A study by Zuo-Fen Zhang and associates at the UCLA School of Public Health (The Wine News, August/September 2001) reports that consumption of at least 1.8mg of Boron per day reduces the incidence of colon cancer in men to less than one-third of the incidence of men ingesting under 0.9mg per day.

Boron is one of the ingredients of cleaning compounds like Twenty Mule Team Borax (does anyone remember Death Valley days?) and Boraxo.  No, you shouldn’t start eating Borax!

The good news is that a glass of wine contains about 0.5mg of Boron, so four a day should provide the sort of results shown in the study.

Three caveats:

  1.  The study covered men only.  Women will have to find some other reason for drinking wine (do we need reasons?)
  2. The study deals with colon cancer only.  The study did not find that Boron protected against any other cancers or other chronic diseases.
  3. A serving of grapes, other non-citrus fruits, or peanuts provides about the same amount of Boron as a glass of wine.  Only those who prefer wine to fruit or peanuts should protect themselves with wine.  Of course, two handfuls of peanuts and two glasses of wine is not an impossible combination!

New York Academy of Sciences consensus statement

Here is a consensus statement from the Alcohol and Wine in Health and Disease conference of the New York Academy of Science (April 2001): “If you drink, do so in moderation. But if you do not drink, ask your doctor. Moderate alcohol consumption may be advisable.”

There has been a lot of research that shows the health benefits of moderate wine consumption. But to the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a reputable scientific body has acted on this research to suggest that non-drinkers should seek advice about taking up moderate wine drinking for its positive effects on their health.

Alcohol and Heart Disease

An analysis of 42 studies of the effect of moderate alcohol consumption on the incidence of heart disease was published recently in the British Medical Journal(December 11, 1999) by Eric Rimm and his team. They concluded that moderate daily alcohol consumption (up to about three drinks) can lower the risk of coronary heart disease by about 25%. The causes of the reduction seem to be an increase in the concentration of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood and a thinning of the blood. The studies analysed were carried out between 1965 and 1998.

Alcohol and Diabetes

The Archives of Internal Medicine (Vol. 160, No. 7, 10 April 2000) reports that men over 40 who are light to moderate drinkers are about half as likely as to develop adult-onset (Type II) diabetes as those who rarely or never drink. The study was based on almost 21,000 physicians who were followed during a twelve year period. Type II diabetes puts people at risk for stroke, heart disease, kidney damage, circulatory problems, and blindness, so reducing its incidence is an important way to reduce these risks.

Wines and Stroke

A Columbia University study of nearly 2,000 people published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association is part of a rising tide of positive medical news about alcohol, leading many doctors to recommend the moderate daily use of wine, beer, and liquor. People who take up to two drinks a day were found to be at 45% lower risk than non-drinkers of having an ischemic stroke (blood clots in the brain). The large majority of strokes are ischemic, in fact, they account for over 6% of all deaths in Canada. To quote the study, “The protective effect was found in both younger and older groups, in men and women, in whites, blacks, and Hispanics, even after adjusting for other possible risk factors for stroke such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, current smoking, obesity, and level of education.”

A Most Ancient Medicine

It has been said that wines is mankind’s most ancient medicine. Indeed, there are few passions that are both enjoyable and beneficial to health at the same time. Some of the initial claims for the benefits of moderate wine drinking perhaps reflected the marketing enthusiasm of wine makers, but there is mounting evidence based on scientific studies that many of the claims were true. Here is some of the benefits:

Heart Disease

Wine helps to reduce the risk of both angina and stroke. Red wines have HDL (so-called “good cholesterol”) that drives the bad cholesterol from the arteries. Wine also contains an antifungal compound called resvatrol that lowers serum cholesterol.


Wine promotes the flow of gastric juices that enhance the digestive process.

Viruses and Bacteria

Red wines have polyphenols that appear to be effective against viruses such as cold sores. It has also been shown that wine kills cholera bacteria and can combat typhoid.


Red wine contains quercetin, which becomes active in the body when grape juice ferments or food is digested. It also contains gallic acid, a demonstrated anti-carcinogen.


Wine can enhance the body’s supply of alkalines, effectively combating kidney acidosis.


Wine, as we know, is a mild tranquilizer that can help reduce stress.


Elderly people who consume moderate amounts of wine are less prone to disability and mental illness, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Wine helps older women maintain their estrogen level which in turn helps them to absorb calcium and ward off osteoporosis.
So the latest scientific evidence is that wine in moderation is likely to be good for you. Cheers!

Moderate Wine Consumption Beneficial

Wine drunk in moderation significantly reduces the risk of fatal illness, including cancer and heart disease, according to a new French medical report.

The survey, which tracked 34,000 men from eastern France between 1978 and 1993, showed that those who drank two or three glasses of wine a day has a 30% lower mortality rate than those who were either abstemious or heavy drinkers.

Dr. Serge Renaud, who carried out the study that was published in the journal Epidemiology in February 1998, said cases of cancer among moderate wine drinkers dropped 20% compared with other groups, while incidents of heart attacks and brain hemorrhages dropped by 20% to 30%. The report said its findings relate to all social groups, regardless of people’s weight, smoking habits or physical fitness.

However, Renaud was at pains to point out that heavy drinkers faced above average mortality rates. “It would be catastrophic if our results were misinterpreted and people began drinking (a lot of) wine because they think its good for one’s health. What we are talking about is . . . limited consumption.”

The Mediterranean Diet

An increasing number of nutritionists are supporting the Mediterranean diet, which recommends smaller amounts of foods, olive oil as the main fat, pasta, grains, beans, and wine in moderation. Outdoor physical activity is also seen as important.

People in countries around the Mediterranean Sea seem to live longer and remain healthier than those in other parts of Europe. The common factor appears to be their diets. The benefits may include lower risk of heart disease, better blood cholesterol ratios and fewer blood clots. The Mediterranean diet also seems to be associated with lower rates of some cancers.

Among the organizations that have had good things to say about the Mediterranean Diet are the World Health Organization, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the National Cancer Institute (U.S.).

Wine Drinkers are Healthy Eaters

A study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionreports that moderate wine drinkers are also generally healthy food eaters. Wine consumption has been shown to reduce the incidence of heart disease, but, according to the report’s author Dr. Anne Tjonneland, it may be that the reduction is due not only to wine but to other dietary choices as well.

“The important message from our study is that there is a strong association between intake of wine and healthy food habits,” notes Tjonneland. The study, which examined the eating and drinking habits of almost 50,000 Danish men and women, showed that moderate wine drinkers (1-3 glasses a day) consumed the most healthy foods. How much influence a healthy diet has in combating heart disease as compared to the consumption of wine remains to be investigated in further experiments.

Alcohol and Health in Early Adulthood

British medical journal, The Lancet, reports (Volume 352, Number 9131, 12 September 1998) on a study of over 9000 individuals in England, Scotland and Wales who were born in 1958. They were interviewed at age 23 and again at age 33 about their drinking habits and their health. Each was classified as a non-drinker or as a light, moderate or heavy drinker.

Individuals rated their health as poor, fair, good, or excellent, and reported any longstanding illnesses that they found limiting. In addition, each completed a questionnaire designed to indicate psychological well-being. Thus three measures of health were obtained for each person.

“Alcohol was significantly associated with all three health measures among men and women at age 33. There were higher rates of ill health among non-drinkers and heavy drinkers than among moderate drinkers.”

Heavy drinkers were those women whose weekly consumption is more than 20 glasses of wine (35 glasses for men).


Wine, Beer and Mortality

An eighteen year study of over 36,000 healthy men in France evaluated the effects on mortality of different levels of education, professional and leisure activities, and smoking and drinking habits.  The results are reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine (September 13, 1999).

Of the subjects, 28% drank beer, 61% drank wine but no beer, and 11% were abstainers. Moderate intake of both beer and wine was associated with lower relative risk of cardiovascular diseases.  As far as overall, all-causes mortality, only daily wine intake was associated with a lower risk due to a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, violent deaths and other causes.

Dr. David Goldberg

As reported in Winetidings (October 1999, p.9), Dr. Goldberg, a regular contributor to Winetidings, opines:

The regular consumption of alcohol in moderate amounts (defined in North America as up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for females) has been recognized in the last decade as a negative risk factor for arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease (CDH), ischemic stroke and peripheral vascular disease.  Mortality and disease attributable to CDH are 40-60 per cent lower in moderate drinkers than abstainers.

A number of other diseases appear to be beneficially modulated by moderate alcohol consumption based upon epidemiologic surveys and experimental evidence.  These include duodenal ulcers, gall-stones, enteric infections, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and diabeted mellitus.  Compared with abstainers, moderate drinkers exhibit improved mental status characterized by reduced stress and depression, lower absenteeism from work and incidence of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease).  Although limits of safe drinking have been conservatively defined, it is regrettable that political considerations are hampering the clinical application of this knowledge and its dissemination to the lay public.