NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
— A compound found in wine and chocolate may not be linked to
improved health as was once claimed, according to a new study.
The compound resveratrol was not associated with
less inflammation, cardiovascular disease or cancer or with
increased longevity among a group of elderly Italians, researchers
“This is contradictory to all the hype that we typically hear from
the popular arena,” said Dr. Richard Semba, the study’s lead author
from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore,
Past studies had found that resveratrol, a compound naturally
present in certain fruits and vegetables, has properties that may
benefit people’s health, Semba and his colleagues write in JAMA
But there was little evidence on the compound’s effect on a large
population, they add.
Research on resveratrol hit a snag in 2012, when one of the field’s
leading researchers was accused of fabricating data (see Reuters
Health story of January 12, 2012 here:
For the new study, Semba and his colleagues used data from 783
Italians who were tracked starting in 1998, when they were at least
65 years old. All were still living within their communities at that
The participants were examined and asked to complete a questionnaire
about their diets. Urine samples were also collected from people in
the study to measure levels of broken-down resveratrol.
Just over one-third of the participants died during the next nine
years. About five percent were diagnosed with cancer and 27 percent
of those that didn’t initially have heart disease developed it
during the study.
The researchers found there were no differences in rates of death,
heart disease or cancer or in amount of inflammation between people
who started out with high and low levels of broken-down resveratrol
in their urine.
Although resveratrol levels were only measured once, Semba said diet
was assessed every three years via questionnaire and didn’t change
much during the study - so the researchers assume resveratrol in the
urine stayed somewhat consistent as well.
“This study suggests that dietary resveratrol from Western diets in
community-dwelling older adults does not have a substantial
influence on inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or
longevity,” they write.
Teresa Fung, a nutrition researcher at Simmons College in Boston who
was not involved in the new study, said she was “not surprised” by
Fung told Reuters Health she wouldn’t expect the amount of
resveratrol found in a normal diet to have a detectable effect on
“I don’t see evidence that we should go after this by drinking wine,
eating grapes or anything like that,” she said, adding that grapes
can still be part of a healthy diet along with wine and chocolate -
Fung also said there may be some detectable health effects from much
larger doses of resveratrol, but that remains to be seen.
“Even at pharmaceutical doses those studies aren’t trending in one
direction or another,” she said.