Consuming red wine is sometimes promoted as one way to extend our life span.
The Metro recently reported that a team at the Harvard medical school has found that they are able to activate the ‘longevity gene’ in mice by giving them the red wine compound resveratrol. In fact despite having ‘high fat’ diets they report that the mice lived longer.
As far as I can see they were given the compound, but not the alcohol. Resveratrol is actually found in the skin of the grapes that the red wine is made from and can also be found in peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It could be argued that the same benefits can be achieved by drinking grape juice or taking supplements, but little research has been done involving humans to investigate this.
There are some additional problems. Earlier research involving mice indicating similar results would mean that a human would need to drink 60 litres of wine a day to replicate the dosage of resveratrol given to the mice. As you may be aware, that is in excess of the governments current suggested unit guidelines and is clearly unlikely to be recommended anytime soon.
Another report has stated that from a pharmacological point of view the interaction between alcohol and the human body is probably about 20% understood, and even my limited mathematical ability tells me that there is still much to learn about what really happens when alcohol is ingested.
In the not too distant past there were advertisements that featured medical Doctors recommending particular brands of tobacco. They were happy to be portrayed smoking cigarettes, proudly displaying their ‘preferred choice’. Most probably they were paid for the ‘privilege’ and at the time saw no conflict in promoting what we now know to be a very damaging and potentially deadly addiction.
Currently many doctors promote ‘responsible drinking’ as being ‘fine’ within the suggested guidelines despite growing evidence that alcohol may actually be more damaging than was originally thought and that the use of alcohol as ‘self medication’ is costing the UK billions in consequential damage to people, property and society.
I would suggest that the human evidence indicates that alcohol isn’t that good for humans. There are non damaging alternatives available to all of the promoted benefits and if the ambition is truly to live longer then using those alternatives is undoubtedly the way forward.
But that’s not why people drink the stuff is it?