test your knowledge
How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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May 5, 2010: by Bill Sardi
Consumers of resveratrol pills have certainly been taken for a ride in recent years, starting from anticipation that Harvard scientists had found the “holy grail” of aging in the SIrtuin1 gene, to the many other promises that the red wine molecule resveratrol is reported to offer. Come to find out, not only are research studies about the gene target of resveratrol in question, but that the first human study that gains widespread public attention is halted due to side effects.
But were the side effects produced by resveratrol in mega-doses (5000 mg per day), or by the toxic cancer drug (bortezomib)? Some subjects in the study were to have received resveratrol only, other subjects, resveratrol + bortezomib. Were the reported kidney side effects reported in both groups? The researchers haven’t been forthcoming about this as yet.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) chimes in on its health blog page, while posting a Google ad box for resveratrol pills adjacent to their posting. So is this news, or just a fishing lure so WSJ can generate Google click fees?
The WSJ article asks “Is the bloom off the resveratrol rose?” Really, just three weeks ago researchers at the University of Connecticut showed that resveratrol in relatively low doses averts death from the sudden mortal heart attack, something that aspirin tablets fail to do. About half of the people who succumb to a heart attack were taking aspirin on the day of their demise. Not one major news media outlet published this discovery. Longevinex, being the first branded resveratrol pill to demonstrate this life-saving effect, spent $23,000 to place the report on the satellite for worldwide distribution and not even news outlets in India or China picked up the story. Neither did any group of cardiologists express interest in the report. So much for saving lives. The WSJ is about money-making anyway.
So what does the WSJ blogger recommend? She ushers consumers to Quackwatch for authoritative information. Is the inference here that resveratrol as a dietary supplement is quackery but the drug version isn’t, or what? The same molecule is being used in both drug and dietary supplement.
The dosage employed in the resveratrol drug study was 5000 milligrams per day. Sirtris pharmaceuticals is hell bent to show you have to use mega-doses to get the job done and to wait for the super-powered Sirtuin1 gene activators, which do not even molecularly resemble resveratrol.
Most of the evidence for the efficacy of resveratrol points to comparatively low doses (100-300 mg), above the dietary range, but achievable with supplements.
There is evidence of resveratrol kidney toxicity in animal studies at very high doses. There is a contrary study showing the human equivalent of 700 mg was protective in kidney tissue. Another study shows that the human equivalent of 1750 mg protects the kidneys from toxicity caused by a cancer chemotherapy drug. Another animal study showed no kidney toxicity at a human equivalent dose of 21,000 mg per day in mice. The question is, was the cancer drug toxic and not the resveratrol? Stay tuned?