test your knowledge
How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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April 7, 2011: by Bill Sardi
At this point in time, April 2011, going on seven years since resveratrol was first heralded on the front page of The New York Times, progress in resveratrol research has been slow and there has been virtually no adoption of this molecule into the armamentarium of modern medicine, despite it being one of the most powerful molecules uncovered in nature.
So far, according to a report published in Wine Spectator entitled “Resveratrol Science Hits A Wall,” resveratrol has not been shown to be a fountain of youth in animal studies. Of course, human longevity studies would provide conclusive evidence but are impractical due to the many decades they would take to complete.
After reviewing over 100 studies, leading resveratrol researcher Dipak Das PhD, of the University of Connecticut, says there is no scientific basis to date to call resveratrol a fountain of youth. In fact, the most convincing evidence for resveratrol is provided within the context of the Mediterranean diet, taken with a meal and red wine, which is a concentrated but low-dose source of resveratrol.
A major problem is that every time another lab dish or animal study is published, commercial entities are quick to make unsubstantiated claims that their brand of resveratrol has anti-obesity effects (it does, but that hasn’t been demonstrated in humans yet) or that it is a fountain of youth (it is, but only in context of a super-high fat diet in mice).
For example, a recent study showed resveratrol lowered weight gain in mice by 48%. But this occurred among mice given a very high-fat diet, not a normal calorie diet. The only study that showed resveratrol could avert age-related weight gain in aging animals (lemurs) required the human equivalent of 14,000 milligrams of resveratrol, an impractical and problematic dose for humans.
With a dearth of human studies, suddenly researchers in Hungary report they were able to improve insulin resistance and reduce oxidation and among diabetic patients employing just 10 milligrams of resveratrol per day. The low dose is striking.
Then there is the claim that pterostilbene, a methylated form of resveratrol, is far superior to plain resveratrol because it is allegedly more bio-available. Bioavailability is determined by how much unbound resveratrol is freely available in the blood circulation after it passes through the liver detoxification system. Anyway, researchers recently exaggerated the effects of pterostilbene by injecting it directly into chemically-induced tumors in animals, rather than by oral dosing.
A chart from a recent study presented below, in the left bar chart, shows a 50 parts per million (ppm) concentration of resveratrol compared to 50 ppm pterostilbene. The difference in the number of lymphoid nodules at 24 weeks was almost 8 per animal for resveratrol and almost 6 for pterostilbene. Certainly not a magnanimous difference and the animal still dies, so not a cure.
In the right-hand bar chart, the number of tumors per mouse at 24 weeks is the same for resveratrol and pterostilbene at the 50 ppm concentration. Apparently there were no tumors in the pterostilbene-treated mice at 250 ppm dose, but there were almost no tumors (less than 0.5 per mouse) in the resveratrol-treated mice. Researchers just blew up the chart to make it appear to be a big difference. The 250 ppm dose would have to be directly injected to achieve this result, as it would not likely be achieved by mouth.