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  • Modest Intake Of Resveratrol Among Wine-Drinking Italians Nearly Halves Cognitive Impairment; Higher Rates Of Tobacco Use Among Heavy Wine Drinkers May Have Negated Life-Prolonging Benefits Of Wine Drinking

    May 12, 2014: by Bill Sardi

    News headlines are screaming today that resveratrol (rez-vair-ah-trol) as obtained from red wine did not reduce mortality rates among adults living in the Tuscany region of Italy.  [JAMA Internal Medicine May 12, 2014]  But the news headlines failed to mention that modest red wine intake nearly halved the percentage of adults who were considered cognitively impaired as measured by a mental test.

    The percentage of adults who were judged to be mentally impaired was 32.8% in the teetotaler low-wine/resveratrol drinking group versus just 16.4% among the high-wine/resveratrol drinking group (~2.6 glasses of wine/day).  Authors of the study only devoted one sentence to this dramatic finding.

    None used resveratrol dietary supplements

    News reports based upon this published study are quick to advise consumers not to buy resveratrol pills, but hardly any of the nearly 800 subjects age 65 and older who participated in the study used dietary supplements of any kind.  Examples of a news report that makes the mistaken jump from wine consumption to resveratrol supplements can be found at [] and []

    The total daily intake of resveratrol for the study group as a whole was less than 3 milligrams, while most resveratrol supplements sold in health shops typically provide 25-500 milligrams of resveratrol.  Resveratrol is said to work in doses that exceed dietary intake but are still modest overall.  [Current Molecular Medicine Dec 11, 2011]

    Mega-dose resveratrol can turn resveratrol from being an antioxidant to a pro-oxidant and generate free radicals.  Resveratrol binds to copper at relatively low doses and releases copper at very high dose concentrations. [Human Experimental Toxicology Dec 2010]

    Resveratrol is safer than aspirin

    The study’s authors state “there are no data concerning resveratrol’s safety in high doses or for long-term supplementation in older people.” For the record, resveratrol pills have been in use for over a decade in the U.S. and have not generated notable reports of serious side effects at Poison Control Centers that monitor the safety of these products.  Used at recommended doses, resveratrol pills are safer than aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as well as many other FDA-approved prescription drugs.

    Overdose is always possible, of course.  Of note, one of 432 brands of resveratrol pills exhibits no cytotoxicity (cell killing).  Even at the highest tested doses (2800 mg human equivalent) no toxicity was reported. [Experimental & Clinical Cardiology Winter 2010] This nutraceutical has also undergone the same animal and human toxicity testing as required for drugs. [Food Chemistry Toxicology Sept 2013]

    Data from earlier studies showed the peak cardiovascular health benefits of wine drinking are achieved by drinking 3 to 5 (5-ounce) glasses of red wine per day.  [British Medical Journal May 6, 1995]

    The study design

    The study measured the amount of resveratrol metabolites (resveratrol attached to sulfate or glucuronate which are detoxification molecules in the liver).  Among 1055 participants in the study, 782 had resveratrol metabolites in their urine versus 273 subjects whose excreted resveratrol levels were zero and were obvious teetotalers.

    Wine drinkers were separated into four groups from least to most alcohol (wine) intake, as seen in the chart below.  The overall mortality data was better explained by differences in the rate of smoking among wine drinkers than differences in resveratrol intake (see below).

    Mortality data skewed by tobacco use

    One in four of the study participants who drank the most wine smoked tobacco whereas only 1 in 12 of the teetotalers and mild wine drinkers smoked.  Overall mortality rates did not exhibit a linear increase as wine drinking increased.  Two to three times more people in the group that drank the most wine smoked tobacco, which certainly must have skewed the mortality data.  But this fact did not cause the study’s authors to alter their conclusions.

    Intake Of Resveratrol From Wine And Measures Of Health & Mortality
    1055 subjects age 65+, Tuscany Region, Italy

    [Source: JAMA Internal Medicine May 12, 2014]
    % consumed alcohol 37.4% 66.8% 87.8% 99.0%
    Urinary excretion resveratrol (nanomole/gram creatinine) Less than 1554 1554-4996 4996-15,010 Greater than 15,010
    Amt. wine/day 5-oz. glass 2/10ths/glass or less 3/4ths/glass 1.35 glasses 2.6+ glasses
    Amt. alcohol/day 2.4 grams or less 8.8 grams 16.3 grams 31.1+ grams
    Current smoker 7.7% 12.8% 8.6% 25.1%
    Mental score* % under 24 32.8% 31.1% 31.0% 16.4%
    Died over 9 years, overall 34.4% 31.6% 33.5% 37.4%
    *The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE); score less than 24 = cognitive decline
    5-ounce glass of wine = 12-14 grams of alcohol

    In comparing data from those who survived 9 years (515) versus those who died (268), lack of exercise appeared to be a strong risk factor for death; 34.6% of those who died were reported to be totally inactive versus only 1.7% of those reported alive after 9 years.  However, it is more likely these inactive adults who succumbed were old and fragile and unable to participate in physical activity.

    Many wine molecules work better

    Roger Corder, professor of Experimental Therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute in London and author of The Red Wine Diet, says it is not just resveratrol but the total of molecules called polyphenols concentrated in fermented red wine that are responsible for wine’s unusual heart health benefits. [Red Wine Diet,]

    Resveratrol pills sold in health shops that provide an array of polyphenolic molecules are more likely to match the long-held health benefits of red wine.  One such multi-ingredient resveratrol nutraceutical produced about double the heart health benefits as plain resveratrol as evidenced by microRNA analysis performed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. [PLoS One, Dec 23, 2010]

    Origins of Authorship

    Strangely, the report’s lead author, published in the JAMA Archives of Internal Medicine, is an ophthalmologist.  Ophthalmology has incentive to conceal any eye health benefits observed among resveratrol pill users.  Ophthalmology has been hiding the fact a resveratrol-based dietary supplement threatens the multi-billion dollar drugs that ophthalmologists use to quell the fast-progressive form of macular degeneration (wet macular degeneration).  [KLAS-TV Nov. 2, 2012; Nutrients June 4, 2013]  Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have weighed in to say resveratrol as a nutraceutical has strong potential to quell the most dreaded form of macular degeneration. [Aging Diseases April 1, 2014]  Resveratrol could save billions of dollars for Medicare if embraced by modern medicine.

    For further information and breaking news about resveratrol, register for alerts at   ©2014 Bill Sardi

    Preventive Medicine 2007 Oct;45(4):313-9. Epub 2007 Jun 2.

    Joint effect of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on mortality.


    To evaluate the joint effect of cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption on mortality.


    A population-based cohort of 66,743 Chinese men aged 30-89 in Shanghai, China recruited from 1996 to 2000. Lifestyle data were collected using structured questionnaires. As of November 2004, follow-up for the vital status of 64,515 men was completed and death information was further confirmed through record linkage with the Shanghai Vital Statistics Registry. Associations were evaluated by Cox regression analyses.


    2514 deaths (982 from cancers, 776 from cardiovascular diseases (CVD)) were identified during 297,396 person-years of follow-up. Compared to never-smokers, both former and current smokers had significantly elevated mortality from any cause, CVD, and cancer; risk increased with amount of smoking. Intake of 1-7 drinks/week was associated with reduced risk of death, particularly CVD death (hazard ratio (HR): 0.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.5, 1.0), whereas intake of >42 drinks/week was related to increased mortality, particularly cancer-related death (HR: 1.7, 95% CI: 1.1, 2.5). The HR for total mortality associated with moderate alcohol consumption increased from 0.8 (95% CI: 0.6, 1.0) for non-smokers to 1.0 (0.9, 1.2) for moderate smokers and 1.4 (95% CI: 1.2, 1.7) for heavy smokers. Heavy drinkers and heavy smokers had the highest mortality (HR: 1.9, 95% CI: 1.6, 2.4).


    Light and moderate alcohol consumption reduced mortality from CVD. This beneficial effect, however, was offset by cigarette smoking.  PMID: 17628652

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