saluteThis morning, the news appeared in the national newspaper La Stampa that drinking alcohol is more socially damaging than heroin, cocaine or other drugs. This is affirmed, data in hand, by an eminent British scholar who until last year presided over the group of government councils on drugs and harmful substances.

The alarm sounded by Professor David Nutt, in an article for the authoritative scientific journal Lancet, is certainly real, in so far as the social damage caused by alcohol consumption probably has a greater impact than the individual damage wrought by a bender with respect to consumption of a hard drug, and should therefore not go unheeded.

And up until this point there is no problem, if it weren’t for the fact that on the same page, in an interview with Elena Lisa, Dr. Riccardo Gatti, director of the Observatory for Dependency in Lombardy, substantially compares alcoholics to “someone who is unable to forgo two glasses of wine at dinner”, and then goes on to drop the bomb, “if a seventy year old individual consumes two glasses of wine a day, this individual’s psycho-physical health is placed in serious jeopardy”.

I don’t want to think about what kinds of wine one drinks at Dr. Gatti’s house, but they are certainly not among our suppliers.

I do want to note here that various epidemiological studies conducted in recent decades have instead found that the consumption of small amounts of alcohol, especially red wine, actually has a protective effect against certain illnesses. The greater part of the evidence in fact indicates that the positive effects of the moderate intake of alcohol are traceable in the case of the consumption of fermented drinks (such as wine) during the principle meals (Criqui & Ringel, 1994; Gronbach et al., 1995; Klatsky & Armstrong, 1993).

Moderate consumption of wine during meals, according to numerous studies at various international universities helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, so much so that France, where the regular consumption of wine in appropriate quantities has been a part of the diet for decades, is the country which has the lowest percentage of mortalities tied to cardiovascular disease.

The inhabitants of Sardinia also regularly consume wine at meals and in quantities greater than in other Italian regions, and yet they are the population with the longest life span in the world.

I for example willingly drink a couple of glasses of good wine every evening during dinner. Would you say that I should go immediately into detox?