Saturday, February 16, 2008

Heart benefits from red wine no different from other alcohols

This is a VERY limited study but it is consistent with the fact that benefits have previously been found from various sources of alcohol intake (such as beer) -- but it is something of a poke in the eye for the resveratrol freaks

The potential health benefits of a single glass of polyphenol rich red wine are no different to any other alcoholic beverage, according to new research. Researchers at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre of the Toronto General Hospital conducted a study on thirteen volunteers to test whether red wine, proven to be high in polyphenols, differed to other alcoholic drinks in affecting heart health.

According to the research, red wine and alcohol consumption were found to have virtually identical impact on health, with one drink of either substance helping to reduce the work rate of the heart.

The findings, which are published in the February edition of the American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, could challenge the perception that polyphenol content of red wine is responsible for cardiovascular benefits. Red wine has been linked to extended survival rates of mice and prevented the negative effects of high-calorie diets, in other testing, due to the presence of the polyphenol, resveratrol.

The study, supported by Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, was conducted therefore to better understand the link between health benefits and moderate red wine consumption. With population surveys linking lower levels of heart disease to European countries with high-fat diets that also regularly consumed red wine, researchers hoped the testing could better explain this so-called "French paradox."

An occasional single serving of red wine, like any other alcoholic beverage was found to improve heart health, according to the researchers. The study said this was the result of alcohol's relaxing affect on blood vessels. However, after a second drink the heart rate, amount of blood being pumped in the body, and sympathetic nervous system action all increased, the study said.

At this point, researchers said that blood vessels became less able to expand in response to increased blood flow, reversing any beneficial effects obtained by a consumer after a single serving of wine or alcohol. Researcher Dr. John Floras said that findings from the testing had thrown up some unexpected results.

"We had anticipated that many of the effects of one ethanol drink would be enhanced by red wine," he stated. "What was most surprising was how similar the effects were of red wine and ethanol."

Floras added that that the American Heart Association (AHA) did not recommend consuming a single red wine or alcoholic drink as a means of improving hearth health, as long-term affects of continued consumption were unknown.

"Our findings point to a slight beneficial effect of one drink - be it alcohol or red wine - on the heart and blood vessels, whereas two or more drinks would seem to turn on systems that stress the circulation," he stated. "If these actions are repeated frequently because of high alcohol consumption these effects may expose individuals to a higher risk of heart attacks, stroke or chronic high blood pressure."

All 13 participants in the study were aged between 24 to 47 years of age. These respondents, consisting of a group of seven males and six females, were all selected as healthy non-smokers, who were neither heavy drinkers or abstainers. The participants attended three separate morning sessions in which they consumed a set standard drink of red wine, ethanol or water on a random, single-blind basis, two weeks apart. The standard drink was a either a 4 ounce (120ml) serving of red wine or a 1.5 ounce (44ml) spirits shot.

The wine used in the trial was a moderately priced pinot noir with a verified high t-resveratrol content, selected by The Quality Assurance Laboratory of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the researchers said.

Found in: American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology, Volume 294, Pages 605-612, doi:10.1152/ajpheart.01162.2007. "Dose-related effects of red wine and alcohol on hemodynamics, sympathetic nerve activity, and arterial diameter" Authors: John S. Floras, Jonas Spaak, Anthony C. Merlocco, et al.


Sugary drinks (and fruit) increase the risk of developing gout?

The first thing to note about this garbagy study is that only 1.6% of the people surveyed got gout. What about the other 98.4% who did not get gout? Don't they prove that drinking pop does NOT give you gout? And even in the afflicted group there would have been many factors contributing to the problem. So this study leads to NO health recommendations at all. And I can't resist pointing out that by the same logic they found fruit and fruit juice to be bad for you! Popular summary followed by abstract below:

Sugary soft drinks could be harming more than our waistlines. In the British Medical Journal this week, a new study has found that men who drink sugar-sweetened soft drinks are more likely to develop gout -- an extremely painful joint disease caused by excess uric acid in the blood.

The usual dietary advice for gout sufferers is to restrict intake of meat and alcohol, but the authors suggest that soft drinks should now be added to the list. The study involved 46,393 men aged 40 years and over with no history of gout. At the start of the study, and then every two years, participants completed a dietary survey and were given a medical examination. Over the following 12 years, there were 755 cases of gout. The risk of developing the disease was 85 per cent higher among men who consumed two or more servings of sugar-sweetened soft drinks per day compared to those who consumed less than one serving per month. Diet soft drinks were not associated with an increased risk of gout.


Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study

by: Hyon K Choi, Gary Curhan

Objective: To examine the relation between intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks and fructose and the risk of incident gout in men.

Design: Prospective cohort over 12 years.

Setting: Health professionals follow-up study.

Participants: 46,393 men with no history of gout at baseline who provided information on intake of soft drinks and fructose through validated food frequency questionnaires.

Main outcome measure: Incident cases of gout meeting the American College of Rheumatology survey criteria for gout.

Results: During the 12 years of follow-up 755 confirmed incident cases of gout were reported. Increasing intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks was associated with an increasing risk of gout. Compared with consumption of less than one serving of sugar sweetened soft drinks a month the multivariate relative risk of gout for 5-6 servings a week was 1.29 (95% confidence interval 1.00 to 1.68), for one serving a day was 1.45 (1.02 to 2.08), and for two or more servings a day was 1.85 (1.08 to 3.16; P for trend=0.002). Diet soft drinks were not associated with risk of gout (P for trend=0.99). The multivariate relative risk of gout according to increasing fifths of fructose intake were 1.00, 1.29, 1.41, 1.84, and 2.02 (1.49 to 2.75; P for trend <0.001).

Other major contributors to fructose intake such as total fruit juice or fructose rich fruits (apples and oranges) were also associated with a higher risk of gout (P values for trend <0.05).

Conclusions: Prospective data suggest that consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks and fructose is strongly associated with an increased risk of gout in men. Furthermore, fructose rich fruits and fruit juices may also increase the risk. Diet soft drinks were not associated with the risk of gout



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


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