Monday, December 11, 2023

Health and wine, and also Coca Wine

As I have noted recently, the wine industry is certainly living in uncertain times, with regard to the health effects of alcohol (A scientist looks at alcohol and health, and is concerned). Importantly, as has been noted elsewhere, The World Health Organization is on the case (WHO shifts its alcohol narratives, and the wine industry faces new challenges). In particular, drinking alcohol is now being seen as the same as smoking tobacco (Is consuming wine really as unhealthy as tobacco?).

In response to all of this, I thought that I might cover a few of the more contradictory pieces of information that have been discussed recently. I am no expert in any of these medical discussions, so I will reference some published articles.

Cocoa wine

However, we should start with the wine industry itself. As Tom Wark has noted (Bringing the 2024 wine industry into focus):
It appears that the wine industry is just now coming around to the idea that there are some very powerful forces working to diminish the sale of wine, in the service of improving the health of the U.S. population. At the heart of this effort is the notion that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption — a message that is being promulgated by the World Health Organization.
This is serious, because the WHO carries a lot of weight. But is the WHO right in their assessment? Tom thinks not — consider this:
Most recently, WHO called for significantly increased taxes on alcohol, including wine, saying that “taxes that increase alcohol prices by 50% would help avert over 21 million deaths over 50 years and generate nearly US$17 trillion in additional revenues. This is equivalent to the total government revenue of eight of the world's largest economies in one year.”
Extreme indeed! Tom’s response is:
The American wine industry must fight this effort to demonize wine, and my sources tell me that there is in fact an effort to do just this. That effort should get off the ground in 2024.
Hall's Coca Wine

In the meantime, let’s start with this study reported in June (and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology): More evidence moderate drinking is good for your heart. Also: a reason.
For the first time, researchers found that alcohol, in light to moderate quantities, was associated with long-term reductions in stress signaling in the brain. This impact appeared to significantly account for the reductions in heart disease risk seen in light to moderate drinkers participating in the study.
Previous epidemiological studies have suggested that light to moderate alcohol consumption (one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men) is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Yet while light/moderate drinkers lowered their risk for cardiovascular disease, the study also showed that any amount of alcohol increases the risk of cancer. And at higher amounts of alcohol consumption — more than 14 drinks a week — heart attack risk started to increase while overall brain activity started to decrease (which may be associated with adverse cognitive health).

Continuing along the same line, also in June (and published in the Nutrients Journal): Study reveals that wine consumption has an inverse relationship to cardiovascular health 

In a recent study, researchers aimed to understand the association between wine consumption and cardiovascular mortality, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and coronary heart disease (CHD).
The researchers performed a systematic review and meta-analysis using longitudinal studies, including cohort and case-control studies retrieved from multiple databases, which they searched from their inception to March 2023.
This current review and meta-analysis added to the previous evidence of an inverse association between the consumption of wine and three cardiovascular events evaluated in this study.
In contrast, there was this report in June (and published in Calcified Tissue International): Heavy drinking linked to lower muscle mass — here’s what you need to know
Heavy drinking has long been associated with various health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, cancer and heart disease. But our latest study has found that these aren’t the only issues that excess drinking can cause. We found that heavy drinkers had lower levels of muscle mass than those who didn’t drink, or drank moderately. 
Overall, people had lower amounts of muscle the more that they drank. This effect happened after about one unit of alcohol a day for men (just under a small glass of wine) and just under two units for women (the equivalent of a pint of lager).
Metcalf's Coca Wine

Wine can, of course, be made from many sources, not just grapevines. One that was once popular was coca (from the plant Erythroxylum coca), back in the 1800s (The medical history of Coca-Cola you never knew). So, on this page are advertisements for some of the better-known Coca Wines of yesteryear. There was also the milder Coca Tea, and the much less mild Cocaine.

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