AN ABOUT FACE: NOW WINE is FINE . . .
Several months ago, France caused a tidal wave in the wine world when the health ministry’s National Cancer Institute (INCA) released a study warning that even small daily amounts of wine significantly increased a person’s risk of developing cancer, and for certain types by as much as 168%. But in a complete about-face, France’s most senior health body has ruled in favor of moderate wine drinking. The High Council for Public Health (HCSP) has officially disowned the conclusions of the study which were extremely controversial. INCA’s advice for total abstinence was distributed in brochure form across 7O,OOO doctors’ surgeries nationwide. This caused outrage among winegrowers, who claimed INCA’s findings contradicted numerous accepted medical studies. In the wake of all the fury, health minister Roselyne Bachelot backtracked. “I myself enjoy a glass of wine with my meals,” she declared, and tried to stave off threatened legal action against distribution of the brochure by turning to the HCSP to provide a definitive opinion. The HCSP counter-report says: “Concerning the prevention of cancers, INCA advises against alcohol consumption, but in doing so, it has chosen not to take into account the possible protective effect against cardio-vascular diseases afforded by slight alcohol consumption.” The report, which was prepared by a panel of leading medical experts, noted that INCA had ignored “the positive aspects that some attribute to alcohol in improving their quality of life” and further stated that it found no convincing argument to alter the current recommendations in favor of complete abstinence.