Is wine bad for health? What the experts say

Bassetti: “No to alerts, some bottles are works of art”. Pregliasco: “The resveratrol of red is an immunostimulant”

Ireland’s choice to include warning messages on health risks on wine and spirits labels, as happens with cigarettes, continues to be debated. The controversy is consumed in the Italian land and the clear stance of the immunologist Antonella Viola on the negative effects associated with alcohol consumption, including the reduction in brain size, divides the experts.


The infectious disease specialist Matteo Bassetti replies to his colleague directly on Instagram by posting a selfie with a glass of red in his hand: “Antonella Viola said that wine shrinks the brain and is comparable to asbestos for its damage. She defined herself as a teetotaler even if he allows himself a glass only in starred restaurants. He has reached very high levels of science. Unattainable for those who love wine. Cheers!!”.

So speaking with Adnkronos Salute, the director of the infectious diseases department of the San Martino hospital in Genoa invites us to reflect on the cultural dimension of wine in Italy. “I think it is very difficult to deal with this topic in a totally scientific way. It is certainly easier to do it in Ireland than in Italy”, he observes, expressing doubts about the outcome of this type of message in our country. “It’s also a cultural question. We come from a country where the culture of wine is inherent in our DNA. Personally – admits the doctor – a bottle of Masseto, Sassicaia or Brunello di Montalcino, with its beautiful label with ‘Alcohol seriously damages your health’ printed on it, I might even say no. In my opinion, even those bottles are works of art, on which I would avoid writing those”.

I prefer

The virologist of the State University of Milan Fabrizio Pregliasco is also cautious. “Wine certainly represents a health risk when it is consumed in an inappropriate way. I believe that a total demonization as always does not make sense. And that, as always, it is necessary to practice common sense”, because “resveratrol present in red wine, for example, it has a positive and immunostimulating action and therefore reasonability is needed”, warns Pregliasco commenting Antonella Viola’s words to Adnkronos Salute. “Certainly, however – he underlines – it is right to send a message about spirits and other products perhaps intended for young people”, among which attention to the “element of quality does not prevail, but which sometimes aim only for the ‘high'” and in this sense “it is necessary to highlight the risks to health, the danger of accidents and so on”. But the doctor says no to absolute demonization.


Is wine bad for you? “Every excess is absolutely open to criticism, whether it be drinks or other substances. I take the liberty of saying, however, that we should leave these comments to the experts in that sector”, Maria Rita Gismondo, director of the Laboratory of Health, cuts short to Adnkronos Salute clinical microbiology, virology and diagnostics of bio-emergencies at the Sacco Hospital in Milan.