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Wednesday, 05 June 2019 09:12

The International Wine & Health Summit 2019

This year, the International Wine & Health Summit took place on the UC Davis campus, United States, welcoming well-known scientists and physicians from around the world. UC Davis Campus ranks among the most renowned academic institutes of viticulture and enology.

The three-days conference (which was CME-certified continuing education for physicians) reviewed and discussed the latest scientific evidence regarding wine as a lifestyle factor. The researchers looked at whether the evidence has shifted and to question the research which shows that regular moderate drinking of wine with the meals, has protective and beneficial effects on longevity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive function and metabolic syndrome.

The J-shaped curve for moderate wine consumers was re-examined for all-cause mortality and for specific diseases and found to be equally valid today as it was ten years ago.

In addition, there was some discussion on the beverage-specific effects of ethanol in alcoholic drinks versus the additional protective effects of anti-oxidants with their proven anti-inflammatory properties present in larger amounts in red wines. Some new areas of research include the effect of micronutrients and wine on gut health and the microbiota with the discovery of important protective effects for wine.

The importance of the drinking pattern was discussed and there was a consensus that there are no health benefits to those who binge drink. The best pattern is drinking wine moderately and regularly with the meals.

It is also necessary to look at wine as one component of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, and NOT in isolation. Numerous studies show that by eating a Mediterranean-type diet, exercising moderately, not smoking or being overweight and drinking moderately, one’s life expectancy can be increased by several years. On the contrary, by removing one of these lifestyle factors – the moderate consumption of wine included, the longevity declines accordingly.

 The influence of policy on science

During the conference, the increased political influence on science was debated and more specifically the increasing attempt to influence the science (and the public perception) with incorrect studies and ideology-based communication of study results in the last few months.

The participants discussed on the approach of these studies to establish a no safe level of alcohol consumption,  questioning the validity of the J-curve which has been shown in decades of research data, while they overlooked and ignored any lifestyle factors such as drinking patterns (with the meals and alternating with water) as well as the type of alcoholic beverage, following a healthy diet, physical activity, etc., which influence the health risk of alcoholic beverages considerably

It was highlighted that because of this negative perception of wine/alcoholic beverages caused by this misinformation, there seems to be a shortage of research funding and an increasing lack of studies looking into the health effects of moderate wine consumption.

The round table discussion, where Ursula Fradera (WIC coordinator) participated, concluded that political decisions should be based on scientific evidence. That’s why an objective analysis and communication of the study results are necessary, and it is up to the scientists to critically assess and publish appropriate replies to incorrect data/conclusions in scientific journals.

Moderate wine consumption – still part of a healthy lifestyle

 It is critical to educate physicians and health professionals about the scientific evidence of moderate wine consumption for them to be able to assess the individual risk of their patients. The same is necessary for medical journalists.

In parallel, wine producers should also be sensibilised not only to know about the benefits of the moderate consumption of wine but also to recognize the possible risks of their product. The speakers came to the conclusion that it is the only way to preserve the special image of the cultural asset of wine in the future.

Since 2007, the initiative Wine in Moderation aims at sensibilising the wine sector. This European founded movement is now worldwide (21 members in 17 countries).

 

* Photo: from left to right: Ursula Fradera, Deutsche Weinakademie, Dr. Andrew Monnot, CardnoChem Risk, San Francisco, Prof. Timothy Albertson, UC Davis College of Medicine, Davis.