Negative effects of wine

Fake news alert: Express "Bowel and gullet cancer: Just two beers or glasses of wine raises your risk"

Fake news

Fake news alert

Another piece of exaggerated reporting from the British media when it comes to alcohol and cancer. 

On  July 4th, the UK's Express newspaper reported that "Bowel and gullet cancer: Just two beers or glasses of wine 'raises your risk'" - TWO beers or glasses of wine a day raises the risk of bowel and gullet cancer by more than a fifth, according to new research

Reporting that:

Britons down an average of 2.1 drinks daily, placing them among the most vulnerable to two of the deadliest forms of the disease. And anyone having four or more drinks a day is at increased risk of liver, gastric and pancreatic cancer three more particularly lethal types.

The five cancers are the most common digestive cancers across the world, causing almost three million deaths a year, says the report by medical group United European Gastroenterology.

“Heavy” drinkers who get through more than four daily were more likely to develop pancreatic, liver and gastric cancer.

Drinking across the region is higher than in any other area in the world, with over one fifth of the European population over the age of 15 drinking heavily at least once a week. As a result, the continent suffers from the highest proportion of ill health and premature death directly linked to alcohol.

So what are the facts about Bowel and gullet cancer and alcohol?

When you do drink moderate amounts of alcohol, studies have shown that the risk of some cancers increase, yet others decrease. There is much debate about this but overall the health benefits of moderate alcohol drinking are such that your risk of dying is reduced. See more at:

WCRF Report Alcohol and risk of Colorectal Cancer

The most recent WCRF (World Cancer Research Fund) report states that "The evidence that consumption of alcohol of more than 30g/day of ethanol from alcoholic drinks is a cause of colorectal cancer in men is convincing, and probably also in women."

So when you read the summary the WCRF seems damning, but the devil is in the detail and things aren't what they seem at first read! It is a very mixed picture.

A wine at 12.5 % vol contains 12.5ml of alcohol/100ml of wine x 0.8 g/ml = 10g of alcohol/100 ml of wine. So 30g is 300ml, around half a bottle a day (A drinking unit can vary from 8-14g of alcohol depending on the country). For example, 125 ml of wine (12.5% vol), will translate into 1.25 drinking units and 175ml of wine (12.5% vol), will translate into 1.75 drinking units.

Your lifetime Risk of Developing colon and rectum cancer is approximately 4.3 percent of men and women (diagnosed with  at some point during their lifetime, based on 2012-2014 data).

Relative risk, your additional chance of getting bowel cancer, has been reported as follows and summarised by the WCRF in their report. If relative risk is 1.25, your lifetime risk is 5.4%. If relative risk is 1 your lifetime risk is unchanged at 4.3%.

Kato 1999 (1 = no additional risk), Ford 1997 (0.97 =slightly reduced risk, Schoen 1999 (1.24 = 24% higher chance), Chen 2001 (1.26), Flood 2002 (1.02 = no increased risk), Pedersen 2003 (1.0).

The summary estimate is 1.01 according to WCRF= no increased risk of colorectal cancer with Alcohol! 

Somewhat different to the summary, "The evidence that consumption of alcohol of more than 30g/day of ethanol from alcoholic drinks is a cause of colorectal cancer in men is convincing, and probably also in women." Hardly convincing evidence of increased risk. I would say no risk increased risk based on the data!

Summary: Is it true Bowel and gullet cancer: Just two beers or glasses of wine 'raises your risk'?

The most respected cancer reporting charity the WCRF has concluded that the the relative risk is the same for drinkers as non drinkers. So the Express newspapers claims that "just two beers or glasses of wine raises your risk" is untrue. Fake news! 

Further information: Detailed summary of bowel cancer studies

See more at: 

Cho et al in 2004 in their paper "Alcohol intake and colorectal cancer: a pooled analysis of 8 cohort studies" saw that "In categorical analyses, increased risk for colorectal cancer was limited to persons with an alcohol intake of 30 g/d or greater (approximately > or =2 drinks/d), a consumption level reported by 4% of women and 13% of men. "

In 2007, Ferrari et al reported on the link between rectal and colon cancers in Europe concluding that "In this large European cohort, both lifetime and baseline alcohol consumption increase colon and rectum cancer risk, with more apparent risk increases for alcohol intakes greater than 30 g/day."

The 2009 Park JY et al with participants from Norfolk concluded that "Total alcohol consumption was not associated with CRC risk before or after adjustment for age, sex, weight, height, and smoking status . No significant associations were observed between consumption of specific alcoholic beverages (beer, sherry, or spirits) and CRC risk when compared with non-drinkers after adjustment for lifestyle and dietary factors. Daily consumption of > or =1 unit of wine appeared inversely related to CRC risk (HR: 0.61, 95% CI: 0.40-0.94). No evidence was found for sex-specific relationships, and further exclusion of cases incident within 3 years of baseline did not change the associations observed. In this population-based UK cohort, we did not find any significant adverse effect of alcohol over the moderate range of intake on colorectal cancer risk.". So a 40% lower risk with daily consumption of wine!

In the 2010 UK study by Park et al, which looked at alcohol intake and risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) concluded that "No clear associations were observed between site-specific CRC risk and alcohol intake in either sex. " (up to 30g/day).

Hjartaker et al in 2013 looked at "subsite specific dietary risk factors for Colorectal cancer: A review of cohort studies" . The paper stated that "Ten articles were included in the review. Three analyses for both sexes combined consistently showed a higher risk of rectal cancer with increasing alcohol consumption and no significant associations for any of the colon subsites . In the EPIC studyan increased risk was reported both for rectal and distal colon cancer, whereas in the UK dietary cohort consortium (part of which is included in the EPIC study) a significantly increased risk was found for distal colon cancer only."

Should you be worried about drinking wine if you have allergies like Hayfever?

Studies have shows that symptoms of intolerance in drinkers were more frequently reported after drinking red wine than white wine. Wine contains small amounts of proteins, which mainly come from grapes but can also be introduced by bacteria and yeast.

One of the proteins found in wine is the lipid transfer protein (LTP), which has been shown to come from grapes and is a recognised allergen. It is found on grape skins and in the must during the fermentation of red wine. LTP can sometimes lead to serious symptoms such as anaphylaxis. However, it has been shown that drinking wine on a regular basis can lead to the development of tolerance to LTP and reduce the risks. In contrast, the must used to produce white wine is fermented without grape skins. This may explain why red wine causes more intolerance symptoms more frequently than white wine.

Other proteins that have also been discussed as potential allergens, such as thaumatin-like proteins, endochitinases, and glucanases, are present in equal amounts in red and white wine.

In addition to these allergens, other ingredients or chemicals involved in wine production, such as sulfites or the biogenic amines of histamine and tyramine, may also cause reactions. 

It is proposed that the mechanism of general intolerance to wine could be as a result of the following:

  • polar and hydrophobic ingredients in wine could be dissolved in alcohol, thereby promoting their absorption into the body;
  • alcohol promotes the permeability of the intestinal mucosa, which could increase the absorption of wine ingredients;
  • alcohol-induced vasodilation could also be responsible for some symptoms of wine intolerance, such as skin flushing;
  • alcohol inhibits the enzyme diaminooxidase, which degrades histamine and other biogenic amines. This would increase histamine concentrations and could lead to symptoms such as vascular dilation in the nose region

In the Mainz study 2012, only 3 out of 30 participants with self-reported wine intolerance and 6 out of the total of 68 wine-intolerant individuals identified in the study additionally reported grape intolerance, supports the assumption that wine intolerance is very rarely caused by true allergy to grapes.

See more at:

Too much wine or alcohol consumption - what can happen if you get it wrong

Wine bottles

Positive effects of alcohol

Alcoholic drinks are a kind of drink that has ethanol in them and are, broadly known as "alcohol". Alcoholic drinks and beverages are comprised of three basic categories: beers, wines, and distilled beverages. On the one hand, these alcohol drinks are legally manufactured in most countries, and hundreds of the countries have approved the manufacturing, consumption and sale of alcohol, whilst on the other hand, there are also the countries where alcohol is not considered as legal and mostly restricted or heavily taxed.

Some believe that alcohol has only harmful effects on health, which is a fact largely depends on the cliche “excess of anything is bad”, which means if alcohol is drunk according to recommended levels of consumption then it will have significant benefits for the health as well.  The medical establishment and media have a generally critical view of alcohol, afraid to be associated with the positive effects. Scare stories are rife and "fake news" is all too common in this area.

After years of scientific and clinical studies, medical experts have shown the following health advantages of the alcohol, which are:

  • Red wine reduces fat: Red wine can assist your efforts in losing weight. Research studies from Oregon State University came up with a study, revealing that the red grapes found in red wine are enriched with a chemical called ellagic acid that improves metabolism and stops the formation and growth of new fat cells in the human body.
  • Prevents cold: If the individual habitually takes a moderate and recommended amount of wine, then they can reduce the risk of the cold around 60 percent. These studies show that the antioxidants present in wine have a helping hand in this regard.
  • Improved sex life in men: Again, due to the high amount of antioxidants in the wine, according to a study on men who drink wine by the Western University of Australia it can help them to have an improvement in erectile malfunctioning by 30 percent compared with non drinkers.
  • Red wine improves memory: A study conducted by Texas A&M University on rats showed that wine boosts memory due to a compound found in red grape skins are known as resveratrol.

Negative impact of alcohol, abuse, the other side of the story

  • Alcoholism: The recommended quantity for the consumption of alcohol by medical experts is a maximum of one glass for women and two for men per day. In some countries such as the U.K., this is much lower. Excessive use can become a habit called alcoholism. Alcoholism is "uncontrolled reliance and dependence on alcohol due to its abuse and excessive use". One who is alcoholic feels like he cannot perform his regular activities without the use of alcohol which results in more and obsessive consumption. People who suffer from this issue tend to resume their habit despite the fact that it has devastating effects on their life.
  • Types of Alcoholism:

> The first category is known as the young adult subtype, includes young adult alcoholics who do not have the family history of alcoholism.

> The second type is the young antisocial subtype, these people do have a family background of drinking and addiction to other substances and drugs.

> Functional subtype, this category is comprised of people with stable jobs and families. They also have the family history of alcoholism, and almost one-third of them suffer from depression.

> The fourth type is the people who get persuaded towards drinking due to their continuous depression and a similar family background. This class is known as the intermediate familial subtype.

> The last classification of alcoholics is chronic severe subtype and contains mainly middle-aged and senior citizens who have an excessive history of mental diseases and drugs consumption.

  • Causes: Many factors work as stimuli for alcoholics, and it may include psychological and biological reasons. Some people drink to relax their pain while others do so to feel good. Similarly, there are countless other causes which motivate the addicted one to take an excessive amount of alcohol, for example., poverty, business loss, homelessness, loneliness,  anxiety etc. Hence, there is no one core cause which can be held responsible for alcoholism.
  • Effects: As mentioned earlier, "Excess of anything is bad," same with alcohol. Those who become addicted an drink to great excess can expose themselves to serious risks

Short term effects of alcohol abuse:

> Restlessness

> Problematic breathing

> Vision issues

> Reduction in brain's activity

> Low productivity

Long term effects of alcohol abuse:

> Serious brain damages

> Diminishing defence capabilities of immune system

> Liver disorders

> Diabetic worries

> Neurological disability

> Psoriasis

> Unstable pressure of blood

> Damaged brain cells

> Inflammation of pancreas

  • Signs & warnings of alcohol abuse: Statistics show dismal results regarding consequences of alcohol abuse and addiction. In the United States, around 1/3 people get diagnosed with having alcohol related disorders in their lives. Alcoholism causes 1 out of each 25 deaths in worldwide. In its severe form, addiction of alcohol can be very hard to be treated which makes it inevitable to notice the symptoms and signs at an earlier to initiate the rehab process promptly. Typical symptoms may include:

> Unsocial and unethical behaviour

> Reluctance to bear job or family responsibilities

> Drinking with an excuse of escaping from tensions

> No interest in other regular activities once done with drinking

> Slanted statements and loud voice tone

> Crumbled walking stance

> Craving to drink again

> Hiding alcohol in unlikely places

> Stealing money for buying alcohol, this sign is more commonly observed in teenage alcoholics

Moreover, appearance and behaviour of alcoholic usually show following symptoms:

> Extreme redness of eyes, cheeks or nose

> Reduction in weight

> No or limited hunger for food

> Heartburn or gastritis

> Headache and being unable to sleep

  • Alcohol withdrawal:

Alcohol withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal syndrome is a highly dangerous situation that can happen with the people who have been in the habit of drinking alcohol constantly. The alcohol withdrawal indications can start as quick as two hours after the last drink and possess the potential to prolong for weeks or even months. Commonly noticed symptoms are:

> Difficulty in taking breath

> Lungs pain or complications

> Imbalanced heartbeat

> Sweating and sudden mood swings

> Fatigue or vomiting

> Delirium tremens, which is a severe symptom that can do quick mental or nervous system changes

> Infections or even seizures

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms have the capability to get worse swiftly, so do not hesitate to contact health emergency department even if the symptoms seem mild.

  • Treatment of alcoholism:

There are numerous treatments for alcoholism which involve sets of steps to be taken in a standardised way. However, treatment depends upon the nature of the disorder. Typically, treatment is divided in three categories:

  1. Home care: Relatively mild indications of alcoholism can frequently be treated at home, and a relative or friend must remain at the place to monitor the situation. Their duty is to ensure that in the event of any severe symptoms, they will take you to a hospital or call for emergency services instantly. They are also helfpul in counselling appointments and go to the medical expert regularly for routine blood tests. There might also be the requirement of tests for alcohol-related mental problems.
  2. Hospitalisation: In case of severe signs or symptoms you might need to be admitted to the hospital. In this case doctors can observe your condition and help resolve any complications. At times, a patient needs to get fluids or liquids into the system to  prevent dehydration and medications to help ease symptoms.
  3. Medications: Indications of Alcohol abuse treated with sedatives called benzodiazepines. Most widely prescribed benzodiazepines include Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, Valium. Other than that, vitamin supplements are provided to replace necessary vitamins that are depleted by alcohol habit. As soon as, withdrawal is completed, excessive medications and supplements are required to heal complications and nutritional deficiencies that happen as a result of chronic alcohol abuse.

Conclusion

Just like other regular edibles, drinks and beverages, alcohol is just another sort of drink which has many myths associated with it. Some tend to believe that even a small amount of regular consumption results in health risks while others have a belief that you keep on drinking until doctors tell you that enough is enough. However, modesty is the best policy in this regard!  Regular consumption of alcohol according to advised guidelines does not seem to confer harm and may have health advantages. Alcohol abuse can be dismal, and if the habit is not eradicated initially, it forms a shape of serious disorder which is hard to be treated in its severe stages.