Alcohol and health:
By Chris Kissack* and Jamie Goode§"[wine] sloweth age, it strengtheneth youth, it helpeth digestion, it abandoneth melancholie, it relisheth the heart, it lighteneth the mind, it quickenth the spirits, it keepeth and preserveth the head from whirling, the eyes from dazzling, the tongue from lisping, the mouth from snaffling, the teeth from chattering and the throat from rattling; it keepeth the stomach from wambling, the heart from swelling, the hands from shivering, the sinews from shrinking, the veins from crumbling, the bones from aching, and the marrow from soaking."
According to a 16th century manuscript copied by a Joseph Lyons "Drink a glass of wine after your soup, and you steal a rouble from the doctor."
I'd always assumed that anything as pleasurable as wine just had to be bad for you. There was a trade-off, I thought: you weigh up the fun you get from drinking against the inevitable health pay-back, and hopefully reach some sort of a happy balance. It was quite surprising to find out that this might not be the case.
Over the last decade there has been quite a shift in public opinion concerning the health effects of alcohol. Fuelled by TV documentaries and numerous reports in the press, most people now believe that alcoholand red wine in particularbenefits health when drunk in moderation. And this proposed role of red wine in protecting from heart disease is credited as a major factor in the recent upsurge in popularity of red wines. As the quotes above shows, though, there is nothing new about the idea that drinking can be good for our health.
In the following articles, we examine the science behind the health effects of alcohol and attempt to answer several key questions. First, is the health benefit real? And if so, is it just red wine that protects against heart disease? What about other alcoholic drinks? What are the mechanisms behind this protective effect? And why is it that some of the scientific studies seem to give conflicting results?