Adapted from a presentation by David Bruce, M.D.
[Yes, THE David Bruce!]
1. Non-drinkers have approximately the same level of cardiovascular death as heavy alcoholics. Moderate drinkers have about half this level. Recently, strong evidence has been discovered to extend this 50% protective effect to strokes (cerebro-vascular accidents). The existence of this "U-curve" has been verified from the study of many different populations from all over the world using many different study technologies.
At least three factors appear to be at work here. The first is the prevention or reduction in oxidation of that bad cholesterol, LDL (low density lipoprotein), which reduces or prevents scarring of the artery. The second is preventing the platelets from becoming sticky and thus forming clots. The third is the production of nitric oxide, which causes restricted blood vessels to open, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to reach heart muscle or brain tissue.
2. Wine is a significant aid in the treatment of both anorexia and obesity! The wine has to be dry (no sugar). Isn't this amazing? How can this be? In obesity, 4 to 5 ounces is given at the major meal or at bedtime. The average weight loss was twice as great as the controls in the study. The explanation of this paradox appears to rest in relaxation of anxiety and emotional tension. (Anorexia is a condition characterized by excessive weight loss.)
3. Some afflictions of old age can be relieved by a glass of wine. The majority of hospitals in California have wine on their menu. It really can reduce the dependence on “heavies” like Thorazine. It's amazing what a glass of wine can do for patients. Their faces light up. They feel like socializing. Their appetite improves. Their self-esteem rises. They have a flood of happy memories. In short, life is worth living.
4. Moderate drinkers are, on the average, of higher intelligence than either non-drinkers or heavy drinkers. Moderate drinkers routinely have higher education status than non-drinkers.
5. On the subject of that “Contains Sulfites” label: Did you know that your body produces sulfites each and every day. In fact, every 24 hours your body produces sufficient sulfite to require 100 bottles of wine to be so labeled! Sulfite production is a normal by-product of most forms of life. It is not surprising to discover that even yeasts produce sulfites! So...even though wine makers who make wines that are completely organic (i.e. uses no sulfite at all) still may need to label their wine “Contains Sulfites.” Just keep in mind that most wines contain very little sulfite. It is a non-problem for 99.9% of people.
6. True allergies to wine are extremely rare. This is my area of expertise. I was a physician in active practice for 25 years, and I actively looked for wine allergies. I never saw a single confirmed case! Three examples of allergy to wine (or specifically to egg-white, a fining agent used in wine) have been uncovered in a computer-aided search of medical literature. It is that rare!
7. The Fetal Alcohol Syndrome occurs only in the chronic alcoholic. Hard drug use, heavy smoking and undernutrition produce similar fetal defects. So which factor does what is often difficult to determine. The question remains, “Does moderate wine intake have any affect at all?” There probably is more support for fewer medical problems! For example, there appear to be fewer fetal lung problems with moderate drinking mothers. More study is needed.
8. Auto accidents are not increased in areas of high wine sampling. California wine country Highways 29, 12 and parts of 101 have wine bars every 200 yards. Yet when statistics are compared to highways of equal density, the level of accidents is not increased.
9. Liver disease is decreasing during a period of increasing wine consumption and decreasing spirits consumption. Everyone knows that cirrhosis is a very serious liver ailment. Chronic alcoholism is its number one cause. In recent years cirrhosis has decreased by 12%. This appears to be following the reduction in consumption of spirits. I must conclude changing people's drinking habits over to wine is saving lives, here as well as in cardiac deaths.
10. Red wine contains anti-cancer compounds. The components thought to be responsible for this are antioxidants. At least 25 antioxidant compounds have been discovered in wine, especially red wine. The most famous of these is resveratrol, a stronger antioxidant than Vitamin E (and Vitamin E is one of the strongest antioxidants you can take). But two other compounds in wine, epicatechin and quercetin, are twice as strong as resveratrol! One example of the protective effect: The U.S. Government's Center for Disease Control found that endometrial cancer (lining of the uterus) is decreased by 83% in women who consume 12 or more drinks per week.
11. Bones are denser in both men and women with moderate wine consumption. After menopause, osteoporosis becomes a very serious problem in women. Hip fractures are notorious. Dense bones are resistant to fractures.
12. Frequency of the common cold is reduced (or at least the symptoms are reduced) by moderate wine consumption. It is an exciting possibility that certain elements in wine bolster immunity. Nobody will be surprised if it turns out to be those antioxidant compounds again.