Good wine is everywhere, and great wine is nearly as readily available. Visiting wineries is essentially a day at Disneyland for many adults who enjoy alcohol responsibly.
However, before we reach for the corkscrew, research strongly suggests that there is a link between even light to moderate consumption and the development of a whole panoply of pathology.
“Alcohol is harmful to the health starting at very low levels,” reports Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.
When alcohol is consumed, the long-suffering liver metabolizes it into acetaldehyde, a chemical that is toxic to cells. This chemical damages DNA and impairs the body’s ability to repair it. This condition promotes the growth of tumors.
To make matters worse, alcohol creates oxidative stress – which is harmful to the cells lining the blood vessels. Oxidative stress can lead to stiffened arteries, resulting in high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
“It fundamentally affects DNA, and that’s why it affects so many organ systems,” Naimi says.
One recent study suggests that consumption of wine with meals is associated with decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
“The effects of alcohol consumption on health have been described as a double-edged sword because of its apparent abilities to cut deeply in either direction – harmful or helpful, depending on how it is consumed,” says study author Hao Ma, a biostatistical analyst at the Tulane University Obesity Research Center.
Ma notes that few studies have focused on other drinking details, such as the timing of alcohol intake. While that may present a glimmer of hope, consider the unambiguous statement released by the World Health Organization earlier this year: “No studies have shown that the potential existence of a protective effect for cardiovascular diseases or Type 2 diabetes also reduces the risk of cancer for an individual consumer. Evidence does not indicate the existence of a particular threshold at which the carcinogenic effects of alcohol start to manifest in the human body. As such, no safe amount of alcohol consumption for cancers and health can be established.”
So, it is up to each person to decide risk vs. benefit.
Stanford-based neuroscientist Andrew Huberman suggests on his podcast, “The Huberman Lab,” that any degree of chronic, habitual consumption presents the greatest risk of cancer – especially breast and esophageal, although alcohol is linked directly to the development of seven different cancers.
Looked at that way, an occasional glass of wine probably poses little risk to most generally healthy people. However, a habitual pattern, even one glass per day, may significantly increase one’s risk.
Cheers and apologies dear readers for the straight-up, undiluted and thoroughly buzzkill information. Perhaps next we will consider coffee…
Please send comments and question to email@example.com.
Nathalie Raven Archangel-Montijo holds a rather interesting array of degrees and certifications, including master’s in nursing and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). She has post-master certification as an adult geriatric primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) and a license to practice acupuncture in California (L.Ac). To round all that out, she is certified in infection prevention and control (CIC) and as an advanced certified Hospice and palliative care nurse (ACHPN).
She also performs in the outlaw country band, Nineteen Hand Horse.