Wine may in­deed slow the age­ing process

Anti-in­flam­ma­tory com­pounds could be pre­ven­tive mea­sure

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HEALTH - By JAMES LE FANU

glass of good wine is a gra­cious thing”, wrote Sir Wal­ter Scott, “for it rec­on­ciles poor mor­tal­ity to it­self ”. Two glasses (or more) can be bet­ter still, a panacea that re­tards the age­ing process. Put sim­ply, it runs like this. Many of the in­fir­mi­ties of age are due to “wear and tear’’, war­rant­ing run­ning re­pairs — new hips, knees, lenses and so on.

But this does not ac­count for the more gen­er­alised de­cline of phys­i­cal fit­ness with age and the ten­dency for com­mon con­di­tions such as di­a­betes or raised blood pres­sure to be­come more preva­lent in later years.

Rather blood tests for “in­flam­ma­tory mark­ers’’ in those in their sev­en­ties and beyond are con­sis­tently el­e­vated, suggest­ing that some of those “chronic dis­eases of age­ing’’ might be ex­ac­er­bated by low-grade in­flam­ma­tion in the tis­sues. And, if so, then the anti-in­flam­ma­tory polyphe­nol com­pounds present in wine might be a use­ful pre­ven­tive mea­sure.

There is now, ar­gues Dr Ar­sun Bek­tas in the jour­nal Age and Age­ing, “com­pelling’’ rea­sons for sup­pos­ing this is the case. The re­duced risk of cir­cu­la­tory dis­or­ders in mod­er­ate drinkers is fa­mil­iar enough, but they also tend to be more ro­bust and less prone to thin­ning of the bones, di­a­betes, mild hy­per­ten­sion, stom­ach dis­or­ders and kid­ney and gall­stones.

This must rank among the most sig­nif­i­cant med­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies of re­cent years.

Flawed di­ag­no­sis

The plight of par­ents wrongly ac­cused of in­jur­ing their chil­dren — a re­cur­ring theme of the late Cas­san­dra Jar­dine writ­ing in this pa­per — is high­lighted yet again by a Swedish re­port highly crit­i­cal of the di­ag­no­sis of Shaken Baby Syn­drome (SBS). There is only “very low qual­ity sci­en­tific ev­i­dence’’ for the claim, fre­quently re­sult­ing in parental con­vic­tion, that the pres­ence of a triad of in­juries (bleed­ing be­neath the skull and at the back of the eyes, swelling of the brain) is “char­ac­ter­is­tic’’ of their hav­ing vi­o­lently shaken their baby.

Mean­while, in the Ap­peal Court Mr Jus­tice Mit­ting has ruled that the case against the prom­i­nent SBS critic Ox­ford pathol­o­gist Dr Waney Squier was “flawed in many sig­nif­i­cant re­spects’’ and re­voked the rul- ing of the dis­ci­plinary tri­bunal ear­lier this year that she be re­moved from the med­i­cal reg­is­ter.

In­deed, the tran­script of the tri­bunal’s judg­ment, in which she was found to have “dis­hon­estly’’ mis­led the courts by giv­ing ev­i­dence out­side her area of ex­per­tise reads at times like that of a Stal­in­ist show trial.

Judge Mit­ting was par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of the pe­jo­ra­tive dis­missal of the ex­perts ap­pear­ing on Dr Squier’s be­half as be­ing (var­i­ously) “eva­sive’’, “not im­par­tial’’ or “lack­ing cred­i­bil­ity’’. This im­pugn­ing of the rep­u­ta­tion of those whose tes­ti­mony in the courts has helped to ex­on­er­ate par­ents ac­cused of SBS has been the sub­ject of a for­mal com­plaint to the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil, whose chair­man has not as yet re­sponded.

Grist to the mill, one might think, of those who main­tain that those SBS crit­ics have been tar­geted “for fail­ing to toe the es­tab­lish­ment line’’.

This week’s med­i­cal query comes cour­tesy of Mrs NG of north Lon­don writ­ing on be­half of her 60-year-old sis­ter, the tim­bre of whose voice has al­tered over the past six months be­com­ing qui­eter and slurred, espe­cially when tired, and caus­ing dif­fi­cul­ties when talk­ing on the phone.

This is par­tic­u­larly trou­ble­some as her job en­tails deal­ing with the public and she has even been ac­cused (more than once) of be­ing drunk. She has con­sulted a chest physi­cian and an ENT spe­cial­ist, who have ruled out the ob­vi­ous ex­pla­na­tions (lung prob­lems and nod­ules on her vo­cal chords), had a CT scan (grat­i­fy­ingly nor­mal) and re­li­giously car­ried out breath­ing ex­er­cises rec­om­mended by a phys­io­ther­a­pist.

“I won­der if any­one might be able to throw some light on this,” she asks.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Anti-in­flam­ma­tory polyphe­nol com­pounds are present in wine.

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