Studies May Dampen Appeal of Wine, Dark Chocolate for Your Valentine

Study Disputes Health Benefits of Wine

True or False: Does a daily glass of wine deliver longevity and other health benefits? Maybe not, according to UK researchers, who recently published a survey debunking the health benefits of wine and alcoholic beverages.

Published Feb. 10 in the British Medical Journal, the new study delivers a strong blow to past research that touted the cardiovascular benefits of low consumption of alcoholic beverages.  Older studies may have been skewed by flaws in methodology and interpretation, which in turn have sparked false health claims linking small doses of alcohol consumption to improved cardiovascular health and longevity,  UK researchers say.

As such, the so-called health benefits of alcoholic beverages have been overstated and skewed, the newest study claims. That study tracked the drinking and health habits of nearly 53,000 people.

In the same issue of the British Medical Journal, an editorial  championed the UK study:

“What conclusions should we draw from this emerging evidence.  Firstly, in health as elsewhere, if something looks too good to be true, it should be treated with great caution. Secondly, health professionals should discourage suggestions that even low level alcohol use protects against cardiovascular disease and brings mortality benefits. Thirdly, health advice should come from health authorities, not from the alcohol industry, and, finally, the alcohol industry and its organizations should remove misleading references to health benefits from their information materials.”

The following articles offer more information about alcohol and health:

  • Know Your Limits
  • Sobering Facts: Underage Drinking on College Campuses
  • Binge Drinking: A Top Cause of Early Death in Workers
  • Women and Alcohol: The New Truths
  • Allergic to Milk? Be Cautious of Dark Chocolate Products

    If  you’re dealing with milk allergies, the following news could make you think twice about dark chocolate on this Valentine’s Day. A recent study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  found that 59 percent of dark chocolate products in the U.S. contain trace amounts of milk, creating potential health problems for individuals with milk-related allergies.

    Dark chocolate has long had a healthier reputation than its milk-based counterparts. Among various health-promoting features,  dark chocolate is also viewed as  a good way of treating yourself without having to worry about milk. But the FDA testing, after looking at more than 100 dark chocolate bars, concluded that many of the products contained undeclared milk.

    This could be the result of dark chocolate products sharing equipment with a milk or white chocolate product.

    And food labels don’t clarify this issue.

    “This can be a problem, since even one small bite of a product containing milk can cause a dangerous reaction in some individuals,” researcher Binaifer Bedford, M.S., an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education fellow, said in an FDA statement.

    Milk is a top-ranking food allergen in the U.S. and federal law requires foods that contain milk to say so on the label.

    The study found that dark chocolate bars labeled “dairy-free” or “allergen-free” were the least likely to contain milk, with only 2 out of 17 of these products containing milk.

    Fifty-five of the 93 chocolate bars — without any clear indication of the presence of milk — also were found to contain milk. That’s 59 percent. Moreover, 6 out of the 11 chocolate products that were labeled “traces of milk” had milk at levels high enough to potentially cause severe reactions in some people.

    “First of all, milk-allergic consumers should be aware that a high proportion of the dark chocolates we tested contained milk, even when the label failed to list milk as an ingredient,” Bedford says.

    Bottom line: If you’re allergic to milk, be wary of dark chocolate.

    Here are some articles related to food allergies and sweets:

  • Food Allergies: A Growing Concern
  • De-Mystifying Common Health Myths
  • 5 Ways to Control Your Child’s Sweet Tooth
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