Wine is good for you. Don’t heed the naysayers
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the never-ending debate about whether drinking a little wine is good or bad for you.
If the average American consumer is totally confused by now, I don’t blame her. Wine causes cancer. Wine prevents cancer. Wine lowers the risk of strokes. No, it doesn’t. Wine prevents heart attacks…or maybe it doesn’t.
My own opinion is that humankind has been drinking wine for thousands of years, and when a dietary and behavioral habit like that is so engrained, it must have positive value, from an evolutionary point of view. Species do not develop traits that tend to cause their demise. Quite the opposite. Evolution made food tasty to us so that we would eat and thrive. Evolution made sex delightful to us so that we would reproduce. (I’m not saying reproduction is the only reason to have sex, but you get the point.) And evolution made wine taste good because wine is good for us. End of story.
Yet there are always those neoprohibitionists who work overtime to get the rest of us to stop drinking wine. Case in point: a lady, Pat Ferguson. She wrote the other day “that the word is out (and I’ve been saying this for a long, long time) that wine ain’t so fine for your health after all…” and that “those who purported its benefits for so long were owners of vineyards.” !!!!
Easy target here. I’ve covered a lot of news over the years about scientific research on wine and health, and I can’t recall a single instance in which the studies were conducted by owners of vineyards. Or winemakers. Or cellar rats. So that’s a silly statement. More to the point is Ferguson’s citation of a study that (quoting Ferguson) points to moderate wine drinking “as causing an increase in breast cancer risk by as much as 15% in women.” The study was by a medical professor at Brigham Women’s Hospital, Wendy Chen.
You know that’s going to cause millions of women to worry about drinking. I did a little research into this study and found that it’s far less conclusive than Ferguson would have you believe. For one, even if it’s true, the study stressed that the slight risk of higher cancer “is more than offset” by the positive benefits to the heart, according to this article.
Furthermore, “the study authors said no evidence exists to show that giving up drinking will lower a woman’s risk of breast cancer.” Another article, in the Nov. 1 Washington Post, covered Chen’s study, but also reported a new study on resveratrol’s possible prevention of diabetes and obesity, which would “extend [people's] lives” and explain the French paradox whereby some people eat vast quantities of fats and cholesterol (paté, cheese, butter, eggs) and have low rates of heart attacks and strokes.
We live in an information-saturated society. Every day, scientists around the world are conducting studies at universities and research institutes, and if you pay attention to the news, you’re going to hear totally contradictory information about everything, sometimes in the same news span. Instead of knee-jerk reactions to studies such as Ferguson’s, wise consumers ought to take the wide view, taking into account everything they know about wine drinking (including–and maybe especially–its soothing psychological effects) and then coming to their own conclusions. Anyhow, Ferguson’s reporting itself seems to have a personal agenda. “Having been a wine consumer at one time in my life,” she explains, she now abstains, implying that the alcoholism her father suffered from is the reason why. I, personally find the advice of recovering addicts to be notoriously unreliable.