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Showing posts from May, 2010

The Prohibition Hangover: What a Headache!

One of the unanticipated joys of having a book in publication is meeting other like-minded authors. I had the opportunity to do just that at a book event held at the St. Helena Library in Napa Valley a couple of weeks ago, where the topic was wine books. It’s an annual event, designed to showcase the library’s extensive collection of wine literature. As it turns out, a theme for all three authors’ talks was prohibition. Attorney Richard Mendelson’s book, From Demon to Darling: A Legal History of Wine in America, describes the conflicted state of affairs that prohibition spawned. As I discuss in my book, temperance wasn’t always interpreted as abstinence, especially where wine was concerned. But banning all forms of alcohol outright turned out to be akin to trying to slay the Hydra of mythology, a multi-headed beast who grew two when one was cut off. The concept of healthy drinking, based on a tradition of wine with dinner, was lost.

The history of wine and drinking is another one of …

Study Challenges Health Benefits of Alcohol: A Rebuttal

The news today is a study from France challenging the beneficial effects of alcohol, adding fuel to a debate we thought had flickered out some time ago. Dr. Boris Hansel of the Hopital de la Pitie in Paris, a specialist in cardiovascular disease prevention, acknowledged in an article in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition that while moderate drinkers are in fact healthier, the alcohol doesn’t deserve the credit. The study was an analysis of lifestyle factors of nearly 150,000 adults, and largely confirmed the long-held theory that moderate drinkers (especially wine drinkers) are healthier. But Dr. Hansel’s conclusion was that the benefit was due to associated lifestyle factors, not the alcohol. Moderate drinkers do a lot of other healthy things too, such as exercise more and eat healthier diets, again most particularly wine drinkers. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jx9U20jDoCjwpIdEN7PbNB32H3EA)


Is it really as simple as that? Not likely. For starters, the e…

The Australian Heart Foundation blows the call on health benefits of wine

In a case of opinions in the rear-view mirror appearing larger than the mountain of evidence right in front of them, the Australian Heart Foundation recently released a position paper announcing that there are no health benefits to wine or dark chocolate. According to a spokesperson, the AHF is ''concerned about people thinking that in having red wine or dark chocolate that they are actually doing something to treat or prevent cardiovascular disease when the evidence doesn't support that.” The recommendation is based on a review of more than 100 studies over the past 10 years, and supposedly “puts to rest the popular belief that red wine, coffee and chocolate can keep cardiovascular problems at bay.”


(http://www.themedguru.com/20100512/newsfeature/chocolate-coffee-red-wine-offer-no-health-benefits-86135104.html )

They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. The thing is, there are more than 3,000 articles over the past 30 years or so on the subject, and I have looked at most …

Time to reverse course with resveratrol?

It’s been an interesting week in the news for resveratrol. On the one hand, a new publication on how resveratrol affects the brain came out, adding to the very few clinical trials on the use of it as a supplement. On the other, Glaxo halted a clinical trial on resveratrol over safety concerns. Meanwhile, my piece in Web MD (http://www.webmd.com/skin-beauty/news/20100427/is-drinking-wine-a-key-to-antiaging?ecd=wnl_skin_0505100) garnered quite a lot of attention and brings us back to the question of whether we aren’t just better off drinking wine instead anyway.


As I have mused about here before, clinical trial data on the use of resveratrol is all but absent, and what there is tends to show that it isn’t very well absorbed. So anyone bringing some clinical science to the field is to be congratulated. The study out this week actually measured blood flow to the brain during cognitive tasks, in other words things require thinking and concentration. Resveratrol improved blood flow and rais…