A topic that receives a lot of debate is whether or not consumption of alcohol is healthy. The question is usually phrased asking if drinking a little wine is healthy or not. The majority of the time the health reference is made about wine and not beer or distilled beverages such as whiskey. The topic became newsworthy when resveratrol, a chemical in grapes and other plants, was being touted as being healthy for hearts. Red wine contains more resveratrol because the substance is found in grape skins, and red wine varieties comes from grape juice that is fermented with the grape skins.
For those who drink alcohol, it was assumed that since red wine had resveratrol, that it may actually be healthy to consume in moderation. The problem is that the resveratrol health claims were brought under serious doubt when the researcher, Doctor Dipak Das, was found to have falsified data on 145 counts. The assertion was that red wine actually conveyed some cardiovascular benefits. Doctor Das died before the case could be tried. Of the 500 articles that did bear his name, there are a total of 117 that contained information about resveratrol.
Currently there is no evidence of resveratrol providing any significant health benefits. Therefore, the one thing that could have been on the side of making moderate red wine consumption healthy actually holds no value. The nail in the coffin for alcoholic beverages of all types was the 2014 World Cancer Report that was published by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)indicates that no amount of alcohol should be considered safe when it comes to cancer. Alcohol has been on the IARC’s list of carcinogens since 1988.
It was already known to be related in esophageal cancer and has now been causally associated with other cancers such as breast cancer. The evidence is being interpreted as certainly connected for cancers, such as esophageal and breast cancer, and not certain for others such as pancreatic cancer.
With resveratrol benefits shown to be a sham, and with no amount of alcohol being safe for protecting against cancer risk, it should then be assumed that a glass or two of wine cannot be considered healthy. It is up to each individual along with the advice of a qualified physician with nutritional training and experience with the research on alcohol as to what level of risk may be considered okay when it comes to consumption of beverages, such as wine, that contain alcohol.
Obviously, it should be entirely avoided by those who already have other risk factors for the causally related cancers such as esophageal and breast cancer. Risk factors for esophageal cancer would be conditions such as Barrett’s esophagus, and a risk factor for breast cancer would be a family history of it.
Though wine cannot be touted as being “healthy,” there are those who are going to still consume it. Hopefully, this will be in moderation and under the guidance of a qualified physician who can keep an eye out for things such as low B12 and anemia. Of course, just as the cancer study demonstrates that risk is dose dependent, it also applies to other alcohol risks from anemia to cirrhosis.
However, individual susceptibility and concomitant diseases and risk factors are also at work too. For those who can avoid alcoholic beverages altogether, it is best. For those who choose not to, it is important to realize that alcohol is a poison that is processed by the liver. Though the healthy aspects of drinking a glass or two of wine are not really supported by the research, the appreciation of the effects of the alcohol it contains are.
It is just prudent that no one consume it for the purpose of improving their health. It should be approached in the same manner of eating a steak. The red meat may actually be counter to healthy living, but the enjoyment of a perfectly cooked steak temporarily obscures any risks.