Wine Conference elevates the health aspects of wine and alcohol

There is a lot of misinformation in circulation about the health aspects of alcohol. M.D., Docent Kari Poikolainen addressed some of these presuppositions when he presented how international research looks at the health aspects of wine today at the Let’s talk about wine-conference on 5 May.

Wine Conference elevates the health aspects of wine and alcohol

The health aspects of alcohol follow the so-called J-shaped curve according to M.D., Docent Kari Poikolainen. What it basically means is that having a couple of drinks a day is actually better than abstaining from alcohol altogether, but if you drink more than four drinks a day the positive effects stop to outweigh the negative ones.

– Drinking alcohol decreases the risk for some diseases, but increases others. At a moderate level, the benefits simply outweigh the harms, explained Poikolainen at the Let’s talk about wine -seminar which was organised at the university 5.5.

Poikolainen mentions increased blood pressure and the fact that alcohol is also a carcinogenic agent, which heightens the risk for throat cancer as the negative aspects.

There is even reason to believe that the safe value might be higher than just two drinks a day.

– The studies are based on self-reports on alcohol consumption, which makes it difficult to determine the safe levels. The announced consumption is often underestimated; it is usually 30-80% of the actual intake.

For this reason the recommended intake is based on conservative estimates. Poikolainen would even allow pregnant women a glass or two per week.

– The official answer is still "no", however.

There are wide speculations on why especially wine would be especially healthy to consume. One theory is that the polyphenols in wine could have a positive effect. Polyphenol also has other sources, such as apples, onions, cranberry and green tea, but the combination of alcohol and polyphenols seem to be effective, at least according to one test.

– The experiment tested how water, water and polyphenols, alcohol and alcohol in combination with polyphenols affected hamsters’ fat accumulation in the aorta. The results showed clearly that alcohol and polyphenols caused less fat accumulation of all the combinations.

This is just one study, however, and the explanation might also be that wine drinkers lead a healthier lifestyle than others.

Poikolainen stresses that even though moderate intake is good in general, it might not be so for everyone.

– There are always exceptions; moderation might not be good for some. If in doubt, consult your doctor, and if still in doubt, get a second opinion.

Poikolainen’s lecture was a part of the Let’s talk about Wine-conference, which was organised jointly by Viini-magazine, European Movement in Finland and the University of Helsinki.

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Text: Jockum Hildén
Photo: 123rf

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