Dyonisos, son of Zeus, […] gives his wine equally, sharing with rich and poor alike. It takes away all sorrow. This text is taken from the Greek tragedy The Bacchantes written by the Athenian playwright Euripides between 407 and 406 B.C.. Wine has always been considered a nutriment, a remedy to several illnesses, a drink able to soothe depression and bad mood, a gift from the gods to humans. And now also science has started focusing the attention on wine and studying its amazing properties. Yes, because wine isn’t just tasty and pleasant, it contains also healthy substances able to protect the heart and to act against cancers, according to the book Foods that fight cancer written by Richard Beliveau, professor in the faculty of Medicine of Montreal University, and the researcher Denis Gingras. Provided that the wine is red and the quantity moderate, in general two glasses per day for men and 1 glass for women. On the basis of scientific studies, those people who drink moderately red wine have a lower risk of mortality than those people who don’t drink at all or drink too much (Foods that fight cancer, Beliveau). Drinking one glass of red wine per day in men seems to have, for example, a protective action on prostate while white wine, on the contrary, is considered to increase the risk of developing a cancer in this gland (Vartolomei et al, Clin Epidemiol, 2018). But you have to be careful, at higher doses than that indicated the risk increases very fast because alcohol, at high quantity, can cause damages to cells and increases the risk of cancer. By considering, therefore, a very limited consumption, red wine is found to be able to increase good HDL cholesterol, a protective factor against cardiovascular diseases.
Moreover, the fermentation process on the whole grapes determines the extraction of substances belonging to the polyphenols family, such as the well known resveratrol, but also phenols, anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins (Shan He et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2008), that, on the contrary, aren’t found in white wine where the peel of grape, the major source of these molecules, is removed quickly. Resveratrol is likely one of the most powerful anti-cancer substances that can be found in red wine, it is able to interfere with the growth and the diffusion of the cancer (Kraft et al, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2009) and this huge ability is due to the fact that resveratrol is produced thanks to the defense mechanisms of the grape plant to protect itself from fungus and the external environment. For this reason, the wines produced from plants grown in rainy regions and with a temperate climate, that, for this reason, are more subjected to the attacks of microorganisms, contain higher quantities of resveratrol, that in wine is easily absorbed from the body and is in high quantity. This substance is indeed present in poor quantity in dried grapes, such as sultanas, because it is degraded by sun rays and oxygen while in the peel of the fresh fruit it can’t be easily taken from the body. Finally, a last consideration about women health. The intake of alcohol is carcinogenic and linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. However, according to a scientific study (Shufelt et al, J Womens Health, 2012), there exists a difference on the basis of the type of alcohol. In particular, the researchers have compared the effects of moderate consumption of red and white wine and have observed that red wine doesn’t increase the risk of developing breast cancer unlike other alcohol drinks because, thanks to its antioxidant substances, acts as an aromatase inhibitor like the medicines used to treat some types of breast cancer.