In the previous post I commented on the societal effects of alcohol consumption, things like car crashes, missed work days, abuse, etc. At the time I wrote that post I would have liked to have commented on the harmful effects of alcohol on our bodies. But at that time there were studies showing that a little wine is good for the cardiovascular system. The resveratrol in red wine was supposedly shown to increase levels of good cholesterol (high density lipid proteins) and protect arteries from damage.
It appears that new science on the effects of alcohol has taken a new turn. In July 2016 researchers in New Zealand reported their findings on the effects of alcohol in the Journal of Addiction. The authors report that "the epidemiological evidence can support the judgement that alcohol causes cancer of the oropharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast." Alcohol causes 7 types of cancer! The authors are so confident in their conclusion that they said that the "specific biological mechanisms by which alcohol increases the incidence of each type of cancer is not required to infer that alcohol is a cause." We don't have to know the way in which alcohol causes cells to become cancerous to know that it does cause cancer. A very bold claim, indeed.
But what about the positive benefits of a little bit of wine? Isn't the resveratrol in wine supposed to make us healthier? Regarding this supposed benefit, the New Zealand researchers also said that earlier epidemiological studies which reported that drinking can protect us from cardiovascular disease should now be regarded with "a high level of scepticism." In other words, the resveratrol in wine may not be as beneficial as previously thought.
This conclusion does not surprise me.
I am friends with a researcher who received a substantial amount of money to investigate the cardiovascular benefits of resveratrol. Instead of giving research participants wine, he gave them fruit juice high in resveratrol. Other participants were given a placebo, a drink that tasted the same as the juice but contained no resveratrol. I recently asked him how the study went. He said that the results failed to show a significant improvement in cardiovascular health among those drinking the resveratrol juice. In other words his study did not support studies reporting health benefits from drinking resveratrol-laden wine.
So where do we stand on the science of alcohol? First, alcohol likely contributes to 7 types of cancer. Second, alcohol may not benefit the cardiovascular system in any meaningful way.
People seem to be more interested in health and nutrition than they were decades ago. That is a good thing. As our understanding of what is good for our bodies and what is not so good changes over time, one law of health and nutrition remains unchanged - the Word of Wisdom. It will always be vindicated and continue to be confirmed as good nutritional advice. Why? Because it was given to us by a loving and all-knowing Creator.