Is red wine good for you?

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Is red wine good for you?
« on: 13/12/2008 19:33:32 »
Thomas Hodge asked the Naked Scientists:

Hi!  Congratulations on your well deserved communication award!

My question of the week concerns wine.  Since I live in the heart of the Northern California wine country, I am always looking for excuses to support our wine industry. Therefore, I would like to know if it is true that red wine is beneficial to heart health?

Cheers! -Tom (Hodge)

What do you think?


Offline norak

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Is red wine good for you?
« Reply #1 on: 14/12/2008 10:59:49 »
Red wine contains antioxidants mainly from the grape skins. There is some evidence to suggest that red wine in moderation is healthy. However, the same effect can be achieved by eating grapes and apples.

The alcohol in wine is a problem. Having 20 grams (two standard drinks) of alcohol per day increases the risk of mouth cancer by 75 per cent (read newbielink: [nonactive]).

In my opinion then, get your antioxidants from fruits and vegetables and abstain from alcohol. Just because you add lettuce to a hamburger it doesn't make it healthy. Likewise, just because you add grapes to alcohol, doesn't make wine healthy.


Offline Bored chemist

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Is red wine good for you?
« Reply #2 on: 14/12/2008 13:43:51 »
According to this site
about 1700 people die of mouth cancer every year in the UK.
The UK has a population of about 60 million and practically all of them will be dead in 100 years so the death rate must be of the order of 600,000 per year. So roughly 1700 out of 600000 die from mouth cancer- the rest die from something else.
People have a roughly 0.28% chance of dying from mouth cancer.
Stopping drinking reduces that risk (according to the site cited above) by 75% so it cuts the risk to 0.16%
I accept that this is a very simplistic calculation but does a change in risk of 0.12% actually ammount to enough reason to quit drinking?

It might make more difference to your expected lifespan if you were to find a bar that was a bit further away and so spend quarter of an hour longer walking there and another quarter walking back.
The extra half an hour's walk may have more effect on lifespan than the drinking.
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Offline Don_1

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Is red wine good for you?
« Reply #3 on: 14/12/2008 13:55:25 »
Quite right BC. Far too much emphasis on what to, and what not to eat/drink these days.

Everyhing in moderation!
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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Is red wine good for you?
« Reply #4 on: 14/12/2008 14:04:52 »
BC - that's the point I made in a different thread some time ago. It's very misleading saying that you increase a risk by x% if you don't know what the risk factor is to start with.

I saw a report a few days ago that said a moderate intake of alcohol is good for you. I'll try to find it & post a link.
« Last Edit: 14/12/2008 14:06:27 by DoctorBeaver »
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Offline Counterpoints

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Is red wine good for you?
« Reply #5 on: 14/12/2008 20:24:51 »
BC.. Interesting calculations. I am not sure if .16% or .07% would be the 'reduced' risk, however.  Subtracting 75% away from .28% is .25*.28 = 0.07%.  But increasing a .16% risk by 75% would bring it to 1.75*.16=.28%.  So it depends on how you look at it.  It depends on what it means to 'reduce a risk by 75%'.  The first interpretation (.25*x) makes the most sense to me, since we are subtracting 75% of the original risk from the original risk.  As a check, reducing by 100% would give us 0.  On the other hand, the method that gives .16% has the risk become 57% of what it was.  If we were to use this method to find a 100% reduction, we would do 2*x=.28... x = .14%.  I can't see reducing a risk by '100%' meaning something other than being risk free! But maybe I am unaware of a convention?
« Last Edit: 14/12/2008 20:32:45 by Counterpoints »