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Resveratrol falls short in health benefits, study shows

Date:
October 25, 2012
Source:
Washington University School of Medicine
Summary:
Resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine thought to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce risk of heart disease and increase longevity, does not appear to have those benefits in healthy women, according to new research.

Studying healthy, middle-aged women, researchers found that supplementation with resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine, does not offer the medical benefits previously thought.
Credit: Robert Boston

Resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine thought to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce risk of heart disease and increase longevity, does not appear to offer these benefits in healthy women, new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates.

The study, reported online Oct. 25 in Cell Metabolism, involved 29 post-menopausal women who did not have type 2 diabetes and who were reasonably healthy. For 12 weeks, half took an over-the-counter resveratrol supplement, and the rest got a placebo, or sugar pill.

"Resveratrol supplements have become popular because studies in cell systems and rodents show that resveratrol can improve metabolic function and prevent or reverse certain health problems like diabetes, heart disease and even cancer," says senior investigator Samuel Klein, MD, director of Washington University's Center for Human Nutrition. "But our data demonstrate that resveratrol supplementation does not have metabolic benefits in relatively healthy, middle-aged women."

The results were somewhat surprising because earlier studies suggested that drinking red wine lowers the risk of health problems.

"Few studies have evaluated the effects of resveratrol in people," Klein explains. "Those studies were conducted in people with diabetes, older adults with impaired glucose tolerance or obese people who had more metabolic problems than the women we studied. So it is possible that resveratrol could have beneficial effects in people who are more metabolically abnormal than the subjects who participated in the study."

Klein, the Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science, directs the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science and the Center for Applied Research Sciences. He says many people who have heard about red wine's health benefits want to take resveratrol supplements to get the benefits of red wine without consuming large amounts of alcohol. In recent years, annual U.S. sales of resveratrol supplements have risen to $30 million.

As part of the study, Klein and his colleagues gave 15 post-menopausal women 75 milligrams of resveratrol daily, the same amount they'd get from drinking 8 liters of red wine, and compared their insulin sensitivity to 14 others who took a placebo.

The team measured the women's sensitivity to insulin and the rate of glucose uptake in their muscles, infusing insulin into their bodies and measuring their metabolic response to different doses.

"It's the most sensitive approach we have for evaluating insulin action in people," he says. "And we were unable to detect any effect of resveratrol. In addition, we took small samples of muscle and fat tissue from these women to look for possible effects of resveratrol in the body's cells, and again, we could not find any changes in the signaling pathways involved in metabolism."

But if resveratrol doesn't have a health benefit, then why are red wine drinkers less likely to develop heart disease and diabetes? Klein says there may be something else in red wine that provides the benefit.

"The purpose of our study was not to identify the active ingredient in red wine that improves health but to determine whether supplementation with resveratrol has independent, metabolic effects in relatively healthy people," he says. "We were unable to detect a metabolic benefit of resveratrol supplementation in our study population, but this does not preclude the possibility that resveratrol could have a synergistic effect when combined with other compounds in red wine."

Funding for this research comes from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and grants from DSM Nutritional Products, the Longer Life Foundation, the Japanese Research Foundation for Clinical Pharmacology, the Manpei Suzuki Diabetes Foundation and the Kanae Foundation for the Promotion of Medical Science. NIH grant numbers UL1 RR024992, DK 56341 and DK 37948.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University School of Medicine. The original article was written by Jim Dryden. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jun Yoshino, Caterina Conte, Luigi Fontana, Bettina Mittendorfer, Shin-ichiro Imai, KennethB. Schechtman, Charles Gu, Iris Kunz, FilippoRossi Fanelli, BruceW. Patterson, Samuel Klein. Resveratrol Supplementation Does Not Improve Metabolic Function in Nonobese Women with Normal Glucose Tolerance. Cell Metabolism, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2012.09.015

Cite This Page:

Washington University School of Medicine. "Resveratrol falls short in health benefits, study shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025122425.htm>.
Washington University School of Medicine. (2012, October 25). Resveratrol falls short in health benefits, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025122425.htm
Washington University School of Medicine. "Resveratrol falls short in health benefits, study shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025122425.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

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