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Wine without benefits

Tuesday, Jun. 3 | By Julie Taylor
Fauquier Times File Photo
Fauquier's wine region is brimming with reds, long thought to benefit the heart as well as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

But recently, a study was published that hasn't found any of these purported benefits to be valid.

"I have read the study and found it interesting enough to have a discussion about it with a few patients today," said Fauquier Health's Dr. Esther Bahk.

The study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, focused on a polyphenol called resveratrol, which can be found in red wine, dark chocolate and certain fruits and vegetables.

The objective of the study was to figure out whether resveratrol levels are associated with inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and life-expectancy in humans.

The study was conducted from 1998 to 2009 in two villages in the Chianti region of Tuscany. The study monitored 783 men and women, 65 years or older, by testing urinary resveratrol metabolites every 24 hours.

The Chianti region is well known as the "wine region" in Italy.

"In older community-dwelling adults, total urinary resveratrol metabolite concentration was not associated with inflammatory markers, cardiovascular disease, or cancer or predictive of all-cause mortality," the study concluded. "Resveratrol levels achieved with a Western diet did not have a substantial influence on health status and mortality risk of the population in this study."

Dr. Bahk explained the findings in non-scientific terms:

"Previous studies suggested that the antioxidant resveratrol may have anti-inflammatory effects, possibly preventing cancer and protecting from heart disease," said Dr. Bahk. "The new study finds that resveratrol (found in red wine, chocolate) was not associated with a reduced risk of cancer or heart disease, and did not decrease mortality."

The study is the first of its kind to achieve these results, and though many questions remain unanswered, Bahk sees the claims to be substantial.

"I have counseled my patients that if they were taking a resveratrol supplement, then they could probably stop the supplement," Bahk said. "However, if they included dark chocolate, red wine in their diet, I wouldn’t necessarily stop that.”

Suzanne Amoruso, a certified dietitian at the Fauquier Health Wellness Center, said that 4 ounces of red wine and 1 ounce of dark chocolate are appropriate servings.

The scholarly article can be viewed here:
Wine study

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