Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
In Vino Sanitas? A Review and Perspective of the Inter-relationships of Wine and Health
The Society of Wine Educators have published a second edition of ‘In Vino Sanitas’ written by Harvey Finkel M.D. As a regular contributor to the AIM Quarterly Digest Dr Finkel’s work in communicating the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption is well known to our readers.

The health giving properties of wine have been known for centuries, Dr. Finkel’s well argued review of the scientific and medical evidence supporting moderation is set out in a clear, easily read format, admirable for the way in which he reduces complex data into easily understandable text.

The original work was published in 1998 and in the preface to the new edition, Dr. Finkel endorses most of his original research which has stood the test of time five years later. "My recent careful rereading of the 1998 edition of ‘In Vino Sanitas?’ revealed, somewhat to my surprise, that it remains wholly valid. The Society of Wine Educators has exhausted its supply, and is, therefore, issuing a second printing to accommodate new members. We are taking this opportunity to correct a handful of typographical errors and to briefly make note below of items of important progress and confirmation’.

The following are brief extracts from the book: ‘The cardiovascular benefits of moderate drinking continue as the focus of an increasing flood of research supporting the view that both the alcohol and the antioxidants of wine enhance the health of the heart and blood vessels and are thereby associated with substantial reductions of disability and death. As we learn more of the intimate life of arterial blood vessels, we find, as predicted, that these vital conduits are benefited throughout the body, not only in the heart. Abstention and, especially, heavy drinking both may be viewed as health risks.

Understanding of the roles of wine’s antioxidants - resveratrol, quercetin, the catechins, and others - is incomplete and evolving. There are intriguing hints that, in addition to their salutary effects in cardiovascular health, they may combat aging, degenerative diseases, including dementia, and cancer, likely, in part, by protecting against oxidative damage by highly reactive compounds, such as acetaldehyde. Polyphenols derived from grape skins, more potent in wine than in grape juice, have just been reported to inhibit endothelin-1, thought to be a key factor in the genesis of coronary disease. (Time will tell).

The safety and benefits of consumption by diabetics has been demonstrated, as long as they eat as well as drink moderately.

Wine, especially, is associated with reduced risk of dangerous gastro-intestinal infections by E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, Vibrio cholerae, and Helicobacter pylori. The last bacterium casually contributes to development of chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer, and stomach cancer, and has come under suspicion as an agent provocateur in the genesis of atherosclerosis.

It is astonishing that the modest consumption of alcohol has been reported to enhance liver health - in rats, and tantalizing that obesity leads to endogenous intestinal alcohol production and, in turn, liver injury - in mice.

Like wine, whose infinite variety precludes ennui, science never stands still. It always progresses, furthering and correcting. Watch for the ensuing chapters’.

Harvey Finkel MD is a clinical professor of medicine (haematology/oncology} at the Boston University Medical CenterCopies of ‘In Vino Sanitas?’ are available from Bonnie Fedchock, Executive Director , Society of Wine Educators 1200 G Street NW, Suite 360 Washington DC 20005 Tel: 202-347-5677 Fax: 202-347-5667 Email: vintage@erols.com

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