A new study is hinting women may want to think twice before picking up a glass and toasting to their health.
Health Magazine is reporting that researchers from Washington University School of Medicine have discovered that healthy middle-aged women do not benefit from taking resveratrol supplements.
Resveratrol is an ingredient found in red wine that previously showed improvements in reducing risk of heart disease.
“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,” said Dr. Samuel Klein, director of Washington University’s Center for Human Nutrition in a university news release. “But our data demonstrate that reservation supplementation does not have metabolic benefits in relatively healthy, middle-aged women.”
The study, which featured 29 postmenopausal healthy women, revealed 15 took a 75 milligram over-the-counter resveratrol supplement daily for 12 weeks, the equivalent, they noted, of drinking over two gallons of red wine. Their insulin and metabolic responses were then compared to the 14 other women taking an inactive placebo pill. The results showed no significant changes.
“It’s the most sensitive approach we have for evaluating insulin action in people,” explained Klein. “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.”
Previous studies indicated that resveratrol provided several benefits. According to the National Cancer Institute, resveratrol, which is found in grapes, peanuts, raspberries and other plants, have shown to inhibit growth of many types of cancer cells. Evidence also indicated that resveratrol, an antioxidant, can reduce inflammation. While studies of drinking red wine, stated the Institute, are still in development, research studies published in the International Journal of Cancer, showed that drinking a glass of red wine a day cut a man’s prostate cancer in half.
In a release about the new study, which was published in the October 25 online edition of the journal Cell Metabolism, it stated that annual sales of resveratrol supplements in the United States have reached $30 million.
California-based physician Dr. Matilde Parente, who is also the author of “Resveratrol,” believes the conflicting results reveal more studies on the long-term effects of the antioxidant are required.
“This small and limited study should not be used to draw definitive conclusions about the potential health benefits of resveratrol,” said Parente. “It is also important to separate this study from many human reports about the health benefits associated with moderate alcohol, including wine consumption.”
Klein also makes clear that the new study does not specifically explore how red wine can impact men or women.
“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,” said Klein. “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 combine with other compounds in red wine.”
The American Heart Association recommends for those who drink alcohol to do so in moderation. They suggest an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A drink, by their standards, is four ounces of wine. Resveratrol, adds Parente, is not a pharmaceutical product regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
But, Parente stresses, more research should be conducted before conclusions can be drawn about red wine.
“Larger and better studies on humans over the years show that for people who are not at risk for the harmful effects of alcohol, moderate wine consumption is associated with a wide range of beneficial health effects,” said Parente. “This includes a dramatic decrease in their overall death rate from all causes.”
You can reach Stephanie Nolasco via Twitter: @SNolasco