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HomeHealthHow Red Wine Lost Its Health Halo 

How Red Wine Lost Its Health Halo 

The drink was touted for its heart-healthy qualities for a glorious decade or two. What happened?

Unveiling the Red Wine Paradox: A 1991 “60 Minutes” Investigation 

In a 1991 “60 Minutes” segment, CBS correspondent Morley Safer wondered why Americans, who love high-fat foods like butter, pâté, and triple crème Brie, had greater rates of heart disease than French people. Raising a glass of red wine to the audience, Mr. Safer said, “Maybe this inviting glass holds the answer to the riddle, the explanation of the paradox.” According to Mr. Safer, doctors believed wine had “a flushing effect” that prevented blood clot-forming cells from sticking to arterial walls. According to a French researcher who was interviewed on the show, doing this may lessen the likelihood of a blockage and, in turn, the risk of having a heart attack.

Stockwell, an epidemiologist from the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. He also noted research that demonstrated the heart-healthy nature of the Mediterranean diet, which traditionally has encouraged one or two glasses of red wine with meals. But he asserted that the idea that red wine is a healthy beverage wasn’t “viral” until the “60 Minutes” episode. The year following the show’s broadcast saw a 40% rise in red wine sales in the US. Wine’s health benefits would last for many years.

How knowledge about alcohol and health has changed

According to Dr. Stockwell, researchers “embraced” the idea that a glass or two of red wine could be good for the heart. It was consistent with the larger corpus of 1990s research linking alcohol use to health issues.For example, in a 1997 study that followed 490,000 adults in the US for nine years, researchers found that those who reported consuming at least one alcoholic drink daily had a 30 to 40 percent lower chance of dying from cardiovascular disease than those who did not drink. Additionally, they were around 20% less likely to die from any reason.By 2000, hundreds of studies had produced the same findings, according to Dr. Stockwell. 

Nonetheless, since the 1980s, a number of scholars have drawn attention to problems with these investigations and questioned if the alcohol was the reason for the benefits that were noted.They proposed that moderate drinkers might be healthier than non-drinkers because they were more likely to be well-educated, wealthy, and physically active. They were also more likely to have health insurance and eat more vegetables. Maybe because many of the “non-drinkers in the studies were actually ex-drinkers who had quit because they had developed health issues,” these researchers went on, was the reason.Researcher Kaye Middleton Fillmore of the University of California, San Francisco was one of many who demanded a more thorough analysis of the findings. In an essay that was published, she said that the scientific community needed to carefully assess these findings.

Is wine available now? 

Many of her cancer patients are “absolutely shocked” to learn that alcohol, especially wine, is a carcinogen, according to Jennifer L. Hay, a health psychologist and behavioural scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York City. Only 20% of Americans, compared to 25% who knew beer and 31% who knew spirits, realised wine may cause cancer, according to a 2023 study that surveyed around 4,000 people in the country.Many of Dr. Cho’s cardiology patients are surprised when she tells them to cut back on alcohol—especially wine. “I thought it was designed to protect against heart problems,” the woman said. “They question themselves, ‘What?

It is true that red wine contains compounds called polyphenols, some of which may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.Dr. Cho clarified, however, that despite decades of research on a single polyphenol called resveratrol, no study has found a clear link between red wine consumption and health. She added that there isn’t much evidence to support the idea that wine is safer than other types of alcohol.”That can be really hard to hear,” stated Dr. Hay.Every time she tells someone that she looks into the dangers of drinking, “a pall falls over the room,” she added.Dr. Hay made it clear, though, that he and other professionals do not support a “prohibition” on alcohol. She only wants people to be aware of the dangers.

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