Is red wine a better anti-occident than Ben-Laden?

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The French Paradox: wine and hypertension

I was in Taiwan a couple of weeks ago and I saw my mother-in-law religiously taking a spoonful of “powdered wine” (all the benefits of wine without the after-effects, according to the label).

Hmmm, makes you think how far marketing can be stretched.??I asked her about it and it turns out that she believes hard as iron that ‘red wine is good for you’, because she saw it on TV, but she doesn’t like the taste of wine, so the powdered stuff seemed like a good alternative to her.
http://www.healthworksglobal.net/picsforweb/crapolla.jpg

mmmmmhhh, I want some of THAT…

The power of television: the “French Paradox”
In November 1991, Americans were told on “60 Minutes” that even if French people ate fatty foods and smoked more than Americans they were three times less likely to die of a heart attack. The reason: “Red wine reduces the risk of heart disease”. This quickly became branded as “the French Paradox”.??Within four weeks, U.S. sales of red wine rocketed by 44 percent. By February 1992, a Gallup poll showed that 58 percent of Americans were aware of research linking drinking red wine to lower rates of heart disease.

Five months later, “60 Minutes” re-broadcast the “French Paradox” segment. Sales of red wine shot up 49 percent over the previous year. During the next few years, wine manufacturers marketed wine as a health elixir. Full-page newspaper ads announcing that drinking red wine counteracted French consumption of fatty food were placed in American newspapers.

There is a collective misunderstanding of the dangers of alcohol worldwide. The fact is that according to data from the world’s largest study of heart disease, conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) during the past decade in 21 countries with 10 million men and women, French heart disease statistics appear to have been underestimated and the “French Paradox” overestimated. France’s rate of heart disease is actually similar to that of neighboring Italy, Spain, and southern Germany. The lower coronary mortality in France compared with other countries is a consequence of different ways of coding coronary mortality.

The healthy lifestyles of wine drinkers, and not wine itself, is the main reason for their lower risk of heart disease compared with imbibers who prefer beer or vodka. Statistically, wine drinkers are more likely to be light drinkers, nonsmokers, of normal weights, physically active, and to work in “white collar” jobs.

According to WHO, France has the sixth highest adult per capita alcohol consumption in the world. And while coronary heart disease may be less pervasive in France than in many others, it is still the number one cause of death. ??It is myth that the French are healthier because they drink.

There is no scientific consensus today over the protective effect of alcohol. The link between the quantity of alcohol consumed and increase of risk of diseases, particularly cancer, is, on the other hand, scientifically validated.??Alcohol creates strain on the liver and kidneys and creates excess acidity in the body. It worsens diabetes in several ways, such as by interfering with the action of insulin, dropping blood sugar to dangerously low levels, and by worsening diabetic neuropathy.

Alcohol has several effects on the heart. These can be separated into effects on the electrical system and effects on the muscle itself. In many patients, alcohol will produce irregular beats and can lead to tachyarrthymias. Other individuals will have irregular beats while imbibing, but only seen on monitors not with symptoms. In regards to the muscle, some patients experience what is called alcoholic cardiomyopathy. This weakening of the heart muscle will often lead to heart failure with repeated exposure to alcohol. ??One of the harmful effects of long-term alcohol intake is its association with hypertension. Consuming three or more drinks of alcohol per day approximately doubles the risk of having hypertension. Alcohol has been estimated to account for about 5%-20% of hypertension in populations. Alcohol is also associated with resistance to anti-hypertensive therapy. It sometimes interferes with the BP-lowering effects of some medications.

Studies exist demonstrating that one glass of alcohol or less a day can boost the level of artery-cleaning “good” cholesterol and reduce the risk of blood clots for men over 50 years of age and post-menopausal women. But these studies often fail to point out that taking a daily dose of baby aspirin, quitting smoking, cutting down on saturated fat, exercising regularly, and losing weight can increase the “good” cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables contain even greater amounts of antioxidants than a glass of red wine.

So even if a glass of red isn’t bad every now and then because it has a certain amount of anti occidents (and I’m pretty sure they don’t mean Ben Laden when they refer to anti-occidents), people should know that a handful of grapes or a couple of red tomatoes contain more anti-occident than a glass of wine. Another thing to consider is that most people don’t just drink a single glass of red wine in an evening.

I know I don’t…

Uwe Diegel
http://www.medactiv.com

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