cardiovascular health

February is Heart Health Month PDF Print E-mail

February is notable for for ground hogs, valentines, and cardiovascular health and the health benefits associated with moderate wine consumption. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of mortality of men and women in the United States.

Scientific information concerning wine and heart health is documented since the 1948 Wine and Heart Health Data in the Framingham Study. Moderate drinking is defined as 1 drink in women/2 drinks in men and based on 5 oz. of 12% alcohol as in wine, 12 oz. of 6% beer and 1 ½ oz. of 40 proof spirits. Overall risks of coronary artery disease, angina pectoris, ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, ischemic stroke, congestive heart failure and type 2-diabetes show decreased event-related morbidity and mortality with moderate consumption.

Some studies indicate all alcohol consumption provides benefit while others confer a unique benefit to wine. Alcohol shows a significant improvement in good cholesterol and decreases blood thickening factors like fibrinogen and platelet-aggregating factors, and lowers inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein. Wine acts as an anti-oxidant, specifically due to phenols and flavenoids. Resveratrol is a compound found in wine that is thought to be a potent anti-oxidant but human studies are lacking.

Moderation is key and instrumental to the positive impact that wine has on health. The J-shaped curve demonstrates that moderate drinking decreases all-cause mortality but that benefit is lost with abstention and heavy drinking.

In vino veritas!

Is that resveratrol spouting from the fountain of youth? PDF Print E-mail

On "60 Minutes" aired in January 2009, in a piece entitled "Wine Rx", Dr. Christoph Westphal stated: "We have a pill that can mimic many of the effects of calorie restriction or exercise." The WineDoctors would like to analyze this statement or separate the science from the MOG.

Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in edibles such as red wine, grape skins, cocoa beans, peanuts, and mulberries and thought to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, neuroprotective, and immunomodulatory activities in in vitro (test tube) studies and some animal models. There is compelling medical data in humans that alcohol in moderation decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. However, the specific molecules of the thousands that have been identified in wine responsible for these benefits are unknown.

Resveratrol is a "SIRT1" activator that affects the sirtuin or "longevity" gene. Dr. Westphal and his group studied a small molecular activator of SIRT1 that is structurally unrelated to and 1000x more potent than resveratrol. Using a mouse model, this group showed that a SIRT1 activator mimicked the effects of calorie restriction in mice fed a high fat diet, ameliorating insulin resistance.

Currently, there is an over-the-counter resveratrol pill (unregulated by the FDA) with a marketing campaign that touts benefits of treating heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, skin ageing, humans, unproven conclusions. Dr. Westphal's pill, 1000x more potent than resveratrol is another yet to be proven remedy being tested by Glaxo SmithKline for its ability to slow the ageing process and sustain longevity. The research is very exciting and we applaude Dr. Westphal's enthusiasm but in no way does this pill have a proven benefit in humans today.

Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle that may include alcohol in moderation is a thousands of years proven way of slowing the aging process.


60 Minutes, Wine Rx. January 25, 2009.


Milne JC, Lambert PD, Schenk S, Carney DP, Smith JJ, Gagne DJ, Jin L, Boss O, Perni RB, Vu CB, Bemis JE, Xie R, Disch JS, Ng PY, Nunes JJ, Lynch AV, Yang H, Galonek H, Israelian K, Choy W, Iffland A, Lavu S, Medvedik O, Sinclair DA, Olefsky JM, Jirousek MR, Elliott PJ, Westphal CH. Small molecule activators of SIRT1 as therapeutics for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Nature 2007 Nov 29;450(7170):712-6.


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