jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pesticides in wine: a problem?

The recent press release (here) by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) makes for rather alarming reading. Titled Message in a bottle, it reports the results of tests on 40 bottles of wine purchased within the European Union. ‘European wines systematically contaminated with pesticide residues’, is the conclusion. The report comments: ‘Together the 34 bottles of conventional wine contained 148 pesticide residues. All 34 bottles contained at least one pesticide, while the mean number of pesticides per bottle was more than four. The highest number of residues found in a single bottle was 10.’ Does this mean wine drinkers are in danger, and that there is a systematic failure by regulatory bodies to do the appropriate monitoring?
Anxious to get to the bottom of all this, I did a bit of research on the pesticides involved and the concentrations that were found in the wine... read more on this

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Drink wine and live longer

The subject of wine and health is an interesting and complex topic. A new scientific paper in the American Journal of Medicine is a welcome addition to the literature, because it seems to be pretty free of the issue of confounding, where other factors could potentially explain the results (an example of this would be that moderate wine drinkers tend to be moderate in other areas of their life, for example they may eat more healthily than other groups).

The paper in question is titled 'Adopting Moderate Alcohol Consumption in Middle Age: Subsequent Cardiovascular Events', and the results are summarized in the abstract thus:
"Of 7697 participants who had no history of cardiovascular disease and were nondrinkers at baseline, within a 6-year follow-up period, 6.0% began moderate alcohol consumption (2 drinks per day or fewer for men, 1 drink per day or fewer for women) and 0.4% began heavier drinking. After 4 years of follow-up, new
moderate drinkers had a 38% lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease than did their persistently nondrinking counterparts. This difference persisted after adjustment for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors (odds ratio 0.62, 95% confidence interval, 0.40-0.95)."

There's a BBC news piece on this paper here. The conclusion seems quite clear, to me. If you are middle-aged, then if you can take up moderate wine drinking without becoming an alcoholic, then you will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Yeast rocks

Nice piece in New Scientist today about brewer's yeast:

Some time in the distant past Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to give it its full name, developed a chemical trick that would transform human societies. Some anthropologists have argued that the desire for alcohol was what persuaded our ancestors to become farmers and so led to the birth of civilisation. Whether that's true of not, alcohol has had a huge influence on our history and our
I'm not sure I agree with the last paragraph, where it implies that there's s selective advantage for Asian populations to carry mutant ALDH2, which reduces their ability to clear acetaldehyde, produced by the metabolism of alcohol. Acetaldehyde is a nasty molecule that acts as a carcinogen: there's a good incentive for clearing it as fast as possible. It's more likely that Asian populations, which have enjoyed teas as their traditional beverage rather than beer and wine, haven't had the same selective pressure on them to metabolize acetaldehyde as efficiently.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Juicing and detox

Ever been tempted to 'detox'? Read this refreshingly b******t-free article article in the Guardian on the phenomenon of 'juicing'. This is what it has to say about the emotionally appealing notion of 'detoxing':
The other main claim for juicing is that it will detox your body. Again, according to Professor Sir Colin Berry, professor emeritus of pathology at Queen Mary's Hospital, London, this notion is incorrect. "Detoxification in the popular sense of the word is completely meaningless," he says. Your body is 'detoxing' itself all the time: your gut and skin prevent bacteria and many toxins from entering the rest of your body, but when harmful chemicals do get through, the liver acts as a kind of chemical factory, combining them with its own chemicals to make water-soluble compounds that can be excreted by the kidneys [as urine]. "The human body works at a fixed rate for many of its detox processes, which can't be speeded up in any useful way," says Berry.

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