Do heavy metals counter the potential health benefits of wine?
The possibility that wine, consumed in modest amounts, can have health benefits has been highlighted frequently in the public and scientific press and was recently briefly reviewed in the South African medical literature.1 Much of the benefit is attributed to the antioxidant activity of wine. In contrast, concern was recently expressed about exposure to heavy metal ions in wines even at intakes of 250 mL/day, partly because they may promote oxidative stress. A brief review of heavy metals, their content in wine as well as in food, and their possible adverse effects on health is thus opportune. Cardiovascular disease is prevalent in the developed world and is rising in the developing world.3 Preventive measures that involve lifestyle are appropriate, with the possible inclusion of the consumption of wine. Trends and potential hazards of some heavy metals were updated recently,4 with a warning that intakes may still be on the increase, especially in the developing world. If the heavy metal content of wine is significant, the beneficial effect of wine to lessen cardiovascular risk may be outweighed by other adverse effects in the very long term.
Keywords: heavy metals, lipid peroxidation