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Resveratrol And Anti-Aging Hype

We would all like to live longer. The most promising longevity research indicates that severe calorie restriction might extend life span, but such a diet is difficult to follow. Resveratrol, a phytochemical found in red wine, has been evaluated as a possible way out of the dilemma. When given to obese mice on a high calorie diet, it produced a number of changes associated with improved health, such as increased insulin sensitivity, and it increased survival. Perhaps by taking resveratrol you could eat as much as you want and get fat without suffering the usual consequences. Perhaps you could get the longevity benefits of severe calorie restriction without restricting calories.

In addition to fat mice, resveratrol also extends the life of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster (yeast, nematodes, and fruit flies). But a study in non-obese mice found no increase in survival (although it did find several signs of improved health). Besides the anti-aging claims, there is also some evidence from in vitro and animal studies that it might have cardiovascular effects and anti-cancer effects.

The ads for one product (Vinotrol) say:
• “Life is short… or maybe not.
• Top Harvard researcher says it’s “the Holy Grail of aging research.”
• As seen on CBS “60 Minutes.”
• Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins, Salk Institute and UC Davis Medical Research Proves that Powerful Red Wine Extract Holds the Secret to Living a Longer, Healthier and More Vibrant Life
• Has the “French Paradox” finally been explained?
• Trick your body into “aging in slow motion.”
• Can you live years longer and feel years younger?
• “extends the life of every species it’s been given to.”
• Vinotrol, with 50 mg of resveratrol derived from grapes and roots, provides the equivalent of the resveratrol in 278 five ounce glasses of Pinot Noir.
• Promoting circulation, blood flow, [what’s the difference between these two?] immune system [ Mark Crislip has recently explained to us what that means], energy and healthy arteries.
• In tiny print at the bottom, it offers this disclaimer:

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not meant to diagnose or treat any disease. Vinotrol is not endorsed, associated or affiliated in any way with Harvard University, Johns Hopkins, Salk Institute or UC Davis Medical.

Dr. Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch has summarized the evidence for resveratrol at “Resveratrol: Don’t Buy the Hype.” It was recently evaluated by the “gold standard” publication The Medical Letter (Vol. 51 Issue 1321, p. 74-5, September 21, 2009). They pointed out “studies in humans are limited” and concluded

Resveratrol appears to produce some of the same effects as calorie-restricted diets that have reduced the incidence of age-related diseases in animals. Whether it has any benefit in humans remains to be established.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database says

There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of resveratrol.

Its safety has not been established, and there is speculation that it might potentiate certain cancers. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database concluded

There is insufficient reliable information available about the safety of resveratrol when used in supplemental doses in amounts greater than those found in foods.

There are concerns about interactions with other drugs. It has antiplatelet effects and preliminary evidence shows that resveratrol might inhibit the cytochrome P450 enzymes, CYP3A, CYP1A, and CYP2E1.

Resveratrol products have been associated with scams and false advertising. Researcher Dr. David Sinclair is quoted in ads without his permission. He commented

His lab showed that mice fed the chemicals live at least 15% longer than normal mice. But to get such benefits, human beings might have to consume up to 5 grams of resveratrol a day, he says. That’s about 80 pills, at doses found in a typical bottle.

The properties of resveratrol are intriguing, and it may turn out to be a useful drug. But so far the studies on resveratrol are pre-clinical studies. We have no data on its effects in humans. Few people would want to take a proposed prescription drug that had not yet undergone clinical trials: why should resveratrol be any different? In the absence of clinical trials, resveratrol might be recommended for obese mice, but not for men.

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*


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2 Responses to “Resveratrol And Anti-Aging Hype”

  1. Noni says:

    If you drink plenty of red wine and eat lots of peanut butter, you could get enough resveratrol, but then you’d probably gain weight from all the extra calories. Not to mention the problem with drinking a LOT of red wine. One researcher said it would take over 300 glasses of wine per day to equal the amount of resveratrol fed to the obese mice in the study.

  2. Michael Cleary says:

    The US Patent Application for DMU-212 was published 10th. April 2010
    The human cell tests are promising but if course it is years away from FDA and NICE acceptance.

    Meanwhile keep on eating the fruit essence.

    Cheers,Michael Cleary TN34 3HD UK

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Richmond, VA – In an effort to simplify inpatient medical billing, one area hospitalist group has determined that “altered mental status” (ICD-9 780.97) is the most efficient code for use in any patient work up.

“When you enter a hospital, you’re bound to have some kind of mental status change,” said Dr. Fishbinder, co-partner of Area Hospitalists, PLLC. “Whether it’s confusion about where your room is located in relationship to the visitor’s parking structure, frustration with being woken up every hour or two to check your vital signs, or just plain old fatigue from being sick, you are not thinking as clearly as before you were admitted. And that’s all the justification we need to order anything from drug and toxin screens, to blood cultures, brain MRIs, tagged red blood cell nuclear scans, or cardiac Holter monitoring. There really is no limit to what we can pursue with our tests.”

Common causes of mental status changes in the elderly include medicine-induced cognitive side effects, disorientation due to disruption in daily routines, age-related memory impairment, and urinary tract infections.

“The urinalysis is not a very exciting medical test,” stated Dr. Fishbinder. “It doesn’t matter that it’s cheap, fast, and most likely to provide an explanation for strange behavior in hospitalized patients. It’s really not as elegant as the testing involved in a chronic anemia or metabolic encephalopathy work up. I keep it in my back pocket in case all other tests are negative, including brain MRIs and PET scans.”

Nursing staff at Richmond Medical Hospital report that efforts to inform hospitalists about foul smelling urine have generally fallen on deaf ears. “I have tried to tell the hospitalists about cloudy or bloody urine that I see in patients who are undergoing extensive work ups for mental status changes,” reports nurse Sandy Anderson. “But they insist that ‘all urine smells bad’ and it’s really more of a red herring.”

Another nurse reports that delay in diagnosing urinary tract infections (while patients are scheduled for brain MRIs, nuclear scans, and biopsies) can lead to worsening symptoms which accelerate and expand testing. “Some of my patients are transferred to the ICU during the altered mental status work up,” states nurse Anita Misra. “The doctors seem to be very excited about the additional technology available to them in the intensive care setting. Between the central line placement, arterial blood gasses, and vast array of IV fluid and medication options, urosepsis is really an excellent entré into a whole new level of care.”

“As far as medicine-induced mental status changes are concerned,” added Dr. Fishbinder, “We’ve never seen a single case in the past 10 years. Today’s patients are incredibly resilient and can tolerate mixes of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and benzodiazepines without any difficulty. We know this because most patients have been prescribed these cocktails and have been taking them for years.”

Patient family members have expressed gratitude for Dr. Fishbinder’s diagnostic process, and report that they are very pleased that he is doing everything in his power to “get to the bottom” of why their loved one isn’t as sharp as they used to be.

“I thought my mom was acting strange ever since she started taking stronger pain medicine for her arthritis,” says Nelly Hurtong, the daughter of one of Dr. Fishbinder’s inpatients. “But now I see that there are deeper reasons for her ‘altered mental status’ thanks to the brain MRI that showed some mild generalized atrophy.”

Hospital administrators praise Dr. Fishbinder as one of their top physicians. “He will do whatever it takes to figure out the true cause of patients’ cognitive impairments.” Says CEO, Daniel Griffiths. “And not only is that good medicine, it is great for our Press Ganey scores and our bottom line.”

As for the nursing staff, Griffiths offered a less glowing review. “It’s unfortunate that our nurses seem preoccupied with urine testing and medication reconciliation. I think it might be time for us to mandate further training to help them appreciate more of the medical nuances inherent in quality patient care.”

Dr. Fishbinder is in the process of creating a half-day seminar on ‘altered mental status in the inpatient setting,’ offering CME credits to physicians who enroll. Richmond Medical Hospital intends to sponsor Dr. Fishbinder’s course, and franchise it to other hospitals in the state, and ultimately nationally.

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