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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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November 6, 2011: by Bill Sardi
For 8 years now, since a Harvard Professor announced a red wine molecule (resveratrol) prolong the life of yeast cells and later fruit flies, roundworms and finally over-fed laboratory mice, a relatively small number of people have been taking resveratrol pills. But subsequent studies showed laboratory mice fed a standard calorie diet did not live longer when their diet was supplemented with high-dose resveratrol (equivalent to 365 and 1565 mg human equivalent) and a pharmaceutical company ceased further research and development on its resveratrol-based drug. Then the gene target of resveratrol (sirtuin1) was brought into question and some news reports temporarily concluded resveratrol is no fountain of youth.
But suddenly a striking study in humans has brought resveratrol, well, back to life. Researchers in the Netherlands not only report for the first time that low-dose resveratrol mimics a calorie restricted diet in humans, but it significantly lowered blood pressure, favorably altered resting metabolic rate and activated over 450 genes, something no pharmaceutical drug has demonstrated to date. Furthermore, it was shown that the dose employed in the study, 150 milligrams, achieved the same blood concentration as much higher doses in laboratory animals. A growing body of research now points to low-dose resveratrol as being beneficial and mega-doses as being counterproductive.
One of the key aspects of resveratrol is that it is known as a hormetic agent. Hormesis is where a low-dose toxin triggers defenses in the body that produce profound health effects. This is the magic of resveratrol. At high doses resveratrol is no longer a hormetic agent.
Now that the world’s largest publication, the AARP Magazine (circulation 24.2 million) online blog chose to mention the recent breakthrough in anti-aging science involving the red wine molecule resveratrol, one wonders if senior Americans will begin to add resveratrol pills to their daily regimen of pills. So far scientific reports surrounding resveratrol have been confusing or inconclusive. But even with a green light to take resveratrol pills, few senior Americans are expected to swallow down resveratrol pills, for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, an AARP online survey taken a few years back shows senior Americans desire more life in their remaining years than years in their remaining life. They desire a pill that would restore youthfulness (smooth skin, thick hair, viagra effects) over a pill that might cause them to live another twenty years in a debilitated state. Resveratrol does improve the human healthspan and promise quality along with quantity of life, but seniors have missed that message.
There are many other reasons why seniors aren’t going to add resveratrol pills to their daily pill regimen. Among these are:
But that isn’t the crux of why I’m writing this report. All these points have been made in prior articles written here at ResveratrolNews.com. For those individuals who do opt to take resveratrol pills, the promise of an anti-aging pill may still be imaginary.
Most resveratrol pills on the market today are largely untested or provide the wrong dose, often an overdose or a miniscule dose. The bargain brands of resveratrol pills sold at big-box stores, which most senior buy, provide resveratrol in name only. Examine of the supplement facts box on the back pane of these products reveals resveratrol is not even a major ingredient and it would take a number of these res-pills to approximate the 150 mg used in the recently reported human trial. So the cost savings are also imaginary.
I’ve had the task of formulating a proprietary brand of resveratrol pill and I can tell you, misleading labels and untested products abound. The more this is said the more consumers feel, why take them at all?
To make matters worse, most of the 345 brands of resveratrol pills on the market today use borrowed science to scientifically substantiate their products. One brand owns most of the published science (a brand I am proud to be associated with). But the grade of resveratrol in laboratory studies is provided in frozen sealed vials and certified by testing. This is critically important since resveratrol is an unstable molecule that can degrade when exposed to ultraviolet light. Testing labs only test for the amount of trans resveratrol, the un-degraded form. But if they tested for cis resveratrol they would likely find quite a bit of the degraded form in the mix. Some form of protection for resveratrol (microencapsulation, opaque capsules) needs to be utilized to retain the molecular integrity of this herbal extract. This is just another reason why consumers may miss out on the resveratrol revolution. The science they read about is based upon lab-grade resveratrol which not being offered in dietary supplements.
But there is even another tidbit of science that says most consumers taking mega-dose resveratrol pills aren’t going to achieve their desired objective. In the prior report published online at ResveratrolNews.com it was reported that researchers demonstrated a way to remove senescent cells that no longer replicate themselves and therefore showed for the first time that senescent cell removal actually slows progressive aging changes in the eyes, muscles and skin. ResveratrolNews.com is the first to uncover research also showing resveratrol targets the very same gene that controls cellular senescence and theoretically slows the rate of aging. The take-home lesson here is that youth seekers need not wait for researchers to come up with a drug that will accomplish this.
A monkey wrench has been thrown into the promise of an anti-aging pill. A newly published study entitled “Resveratrol… induces premature senescence in primary human fibroblasts” (Age, Volume 33, pages 555-64, 2011) indicates high-dose resveratrol actually induces cellular senescence which would negate the promise of slowing the rate of aging. Dosage is even more important now that we know mega-dose resveratrol is going to undermine the alleged benefits of supplementation. A summary of that study is provided below.*
If consumers only knew the behind-the-scenes battles I have had in communicating with a number of irresponsible makers of mega-dose resveratrol pills that they risk bringing down the whole resveratrol revolution with their oversized pills. But they are obstinate and persist in misinforming consumers that “more is better.” In fact, low-dose resveratrol is an antioxidant but mega-dose resveratrol unfavorably promotes oxidation. If undesirable side effects are reported the FDA could use this as an excuse to force resveratrol pills off the market for being toxic.
The makers of these mega-dose pills have no scientific counsel, sometimes work out of a garage or a home and have others write books and other literature to give their products a false air of scientific authority. It is nauseating.
The consumer caveat is: “resveratrol pills get scientific green light, but check dose.” - © 2011 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com Not for posting on other websites.
*AGE (2011) 33:555–564
Resveratrol, trans-3,5,4′-trihydroxystilbene, is a polyphenolic compound which has been reported to mimic the gene expression patterns seen in whole animals undergoing dietary restriction. The mechanism of action of resveratrol remains poorly understood, but modulation of both cellular proliferation and apoptosis has been proposed as important routes by which the molecule may exert its effects. This study reports the effects of both resveratrol and dihydroresveratrol (a primary in vivo metabolite) on the proliferative capacity of human primary fibroblasts. No generalized reduction in the growth fraction was observed when fibroblasts derived from three different tissues were treated with resveratrol at concentrations of 10 μm or less. However, concentrations above 25 μm produced a dose-dependent reduction in proliferation. This loss of the growth fraction was paralleled by an increase in the senescent fraction as determined by staining for senescence associated beta galactosidase and dose recovery studies conducted over a 7-day period. Entry into senescence in response to treatment with resveratrol could be blocked by a 30-min preincubation with the p38 MAP kinase inhibitor SB203580. No effects on proliferation were observed when cells were treated with dihydroresveratrol at concentrations of up to 100 μm.