Scandal hits researcher associated with wine studies

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About a year and a half ago I wrote a column about the benefits of purple grape juice. At that time, I noted there are scientists who feel red wine would help heart health.

In late October, I received in the mail a copy of a health newsletter from the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The intent was to get me to subscribe to their newsletter.

In that newsletter was an article, “The Truth About Red Wine.”

It turns out that a doctor credited with touting the benefits of red wine for heart health has been accused of more than 100 counts of fabricating and falsifying data. He was employed by the University of Connecticut. In searching on the Web for information about this episode, I discovered the university had determined he had committed 145 misconduct episodes.

One of the components of red wine is an antioxidant, resveratrol. The health newsletter stated the purported benefits of red wine are due to resveratrol, which helps the body in several ways. Red wine is not the only source of resveratrol. It is found in purple and red grapes, blueberries, cranberries, peanuts and peanut butter. Obviously this means you don’t have to drink red wine to get it.

The same newsletter article includes reference to a study that showed there are 15 cancer-causing substances found in alcoholic beverages. The carcinogens include lead, benzene, cadmium, arsenic and formaldehyde.

According to the online resource Wikipedia, 3.6 percent of all cancer cases and 3.5 percent of all cancer deaths are due to consumption of alcohol.

Susan Bowerman, the assistant director at the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, points out near the end of the newsletter article that the question as to whether drinking of alcohol is safe is very complicated.

Nearing the conclusion she declares that the typical rule of thumb is that if you don’t drink you should not start.. But if you do drink it should be only in moderation, such as one drink per day for adults.

One note about last week’s column: In discussing a study about dietary effects on health, a sentence was edited out that I feel is important, which is to point out that a previous column I wrote raised valid questions about how important it is for people to consume fish or take fish oil.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 2 1/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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