Doctors at a hospital in the west of England prescribed two glasses of red wine a day to their patients with heart problems, forcing the patients to drink it for its antioxidant properties whether they like it or not.
Heart surgeon William McCrea of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon in Wiltshire said the idea had come from examining statistics on heart disease in France.
"They consume twice the amount of fat that we do, they smoke more and they don't do any more exercise, but their deaths from heart attacks are half ours," he said.
McCrea noted, however, that the French were regular moderate drinkers by comparison with the British, who either did not drink or binged.
Cheap plonk better
McCrea said younger and cheaper reds were better, because older wines lost their antioxidants in the barrel. He recommended Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir.
Whites were no good as the healthy chemicals are in the grape skins, which are discarded in making white wine, he said.
Wine also has to be drunk soon after opening, as it loses its antioxidant properties with exposure to the air.
Wine as medicine
But McCrea acknowledged some of his patients were not impressed. "Some of the older patients don't drink it at home, and regard it as medicine," he said.
McCrea made his treatment public as the British Medical Association urged advertisers not to glorify heavy drinking in an attempt to reign in the binge drinking among the young that has become a feature of British urban life.
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