Antioxidant in red wine has no benefit at low doses
May 12th, 2014
05:24 PM ET

Antioxidant in red wine has no benefit at low doses

The antioxidant resveratrol does not improve longevity when consumed at levels naturally occurring in foods like grapes, red wine and dark chocolate, according to a new study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

“We looked at the relationship between resveratrol levels and a lot of health outcomes that are thought to be related to resveratrol, such as cancer and heart disease and lifespan. And we found no relationship,” says Dr. Richard Semba, study author and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The potential health benefits of consuming moderate amounts of red wine have been much discussed ever since researchers identified the “French paradox” – an observation that the French have lower levels of heart disease despite consuming relatively high amounts of saturated fat.

Some epidemiologists proposed that France’s relatively high rates of red wine consumption may help explain the supposed paradox, and further studies have shown that light to moderate alcohol consumption does in fact correlate with healthier hearts. The new study does not contradict these conclusions.

More recently, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health identified a specific chemical in red wine – resveratrol – that seems to significantly delay the effects of aging in mice, when given in very high doses.

Today, Americans spend some $30 million per year on resveratrol supplements, even though there have been no long-term studies in humans to measure resveratrol’s effect on longevity.

So researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Barcelona tracked 783 men and women aged 65 or older, analyzing who survived and who died over a nine-year period in relation to their resveratrol levels.

The results show no benefits – in terms of longevity, reduced inflammation, heart disease or cancer – to having higher levels of resveratrol versus lower or moderate levels.

However, study participants’ resveratrol came only from their diets – consuming foods like red wine, chocolate, and berries – which provides almost negligible amounts of resveratrol compared to the levels found in supplements and studied in mice.

In fact, a person would have to drink hundreds of glasses of red wine a day to match the amounts used in previous resveratrol studies.

“This study is very important because it demonstrates, in a long-term study with a huge cohort, that (normal) dietary resveratrol levels are not correlated with all-cause mortality,” says Juan Carlos Espin, a research professor at the Spanish National Research Council.

“However, to claim that resveratrol does not have influence on the all-cause of mortality would require the comparison of a cohort with 'normal' resveratrol levels (very low and unpredictable) versus another cohort with a standardized resveratrol supplementation.”

MORE: Red wine and dark chocolate won't save your life

soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Alan S.

    In order to gain any benefits from drinking red wine or dark chocolate you would end up dead from to much alcohol intake or diabetic shock and into a coma from all the sugar. It was a good excuse to get drunk, that is until now that is.

    May 12, 2014 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dave

      That's not what this study said.

      May 13, 2014 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • CoolCMo

      Who needs an excuse?

      May 13, 2014 at 23:19 | Report abuse |
    • Eli

      Not only is that not what the study states, but a normal person would never "end up...in diabetic shock" from eating too much dark chocolate.

      May 14, 2014 at 14:03 | Report abuse |
  2. Bill Sardi

    The study's researchers concealed the fact that those subjects who drank the most wine halved their risk for mental decline.
    Any possible reduction in mortality from wine drinker was negated by the fact that those who drank the most wine (2.6+ glasses/day) also smoked the most tobacco. 25% of heavy wine drinkers smoked tobacco versus 8-12% of those who drank less wine. The study did not involve resveratrol dietary supplements. The most resveratrol these wine drinkers consumed was about 3 milligrams per day.

    May 13, 2014 at 02:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jerryball

    If this single study overturns multiple studies that infer the opposite, are we to trust this new source? Perhaps multiple studies should be completed until a real diagnosis or opinion is published or overturned? As study after study is proven false, it seems that the medical profession is only 2 shades away from bleeding as cure. This tends to make me doubt every "resolved" study that is published and followed as medical procedure for a cure or beneficial.

    May 13, 2014 at 03:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eeyore

      Since when does any study purport to reach a final conclusion? If you expect that there will be a definitive and immutable answer to a question, then you're going to be very disappointed in scientific research. Try religion instead.

      May 13, 2014 at 06:23 | Report abuse |
    • dmmcmah

      The science is settled.

      May 13, 2014 at 15:00 | Report abuse |
    • ylee

      remember, there's a difference between "red wine is good" and "resveratrol is good". old studies basically found a correlation between red wine consumption and heart health (blah blah correlation not causation blah blah). then recent studies showed resveratrol, which is in wine, at high doses helps mice. this study says that resveratrol, at low doses, does NOT help humans. doesn't refute any of the prior studies

      May 13, 2014 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
  4. Goodrite

    The so called "French Paradox" may not be due to wine consumption alone but, as recent studies show, saturated fat intake probably does not cause heart disease.

    May 13, 2014 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Res Ipsa

      That's a bingo!

      The French paradox is only a paradox if you assume that saturated fat causes heart disease. But it doesn't. The saturated fat/heart disease hypothesis was derived from Ancel Keys' Seven Countries study in the 1950s–where seven countries' rates of heart disease and saturated fat consumption are positively correlated. The problem is, Ancel Keys omitted data from over 20 other countries...and when you add in that data, the correlation completely disappears.

      There is simply no consistent body of research that establishes even a correlation, let alone causation, between saturated fat intake and heart disease. The medical profession is simply 20 years behind on the state of the research right now.

      May 13, 2014 at 10:55 | Report abuse |
  5. Rodger

    However it has been demonstrated in study after study that moderate alcohol consumption (2 drinks a day) increases longevity.

    May 13, 2014 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Scott

      Yep. The first study I read that established that was done in the early 70s, and alcohol consumption was controlled but not the main focus of the study.

      May 13, 2014 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
  6. Max

    So, more booze is good for you? Tell that to the millions of wives and children whose husbands come home after blowing their paycheck at the bar or the liquor store, and then beat them up.

    Tell that to the tens of thousands of people on skid row, who now have to live on the streets and at the mercy of the other street people; all because they lost their careers and their minds to booze and/or drugs.

    The highway signs with the handsome young men and beautiful women with a sparkling drink in their hand are a flat out lie, designed to trap you into a life of self-destruction so the liquor companies can profit from your misery and death.

    May 13, 2014 at 10:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alan S

      Max, no one said that more booze is good for you. Rodger wrote that numerous studies show that moderate daily alcohol intake increases longevity.

      May 13, 2014 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • coolio

      jesus – change those diapers dude. all thats being said is that low consumption of wine might indeed make you a bit healthier. It doesnt promote alcoholism. You need to get a life.

      May 13, 2014 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      um, I don't think that's "millions." Plus, there is a difference between moderate alcohol consumption and full-blown severe alcoholism.

      May 13, 2014 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
  7. Harry Nutzack

    wow, one week you cannot get enough the next week you should avoid it all cost. That is why they call it practising medicine, all those years of education and all these people can do is argue about each other's facts and research.

    May 13, 2014 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ylee

      uhh, no? certainly there is debate over new research, that way we're confident the results we get from experiments are reliable and interpreted appropriately. and yes, there have been things that we once thought were good, then later discovered were not. but that isn't the case here

      May 13, 2014 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
  8. Pat McClung

    High doses of red wine. Highly recommended. Or, if you don't drink, take flavenoids as a dietary supplement. Diosmin/Hesperidin is available in the US as a dietary supplement, without prescription. Large doses of red wine more fun, though!

    May 13, 2014 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. cberg

    Well, I still feed better after my glass of red wine . . .

    May 13, 2014 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. John Allenby

    Nobody drinks red wine because it is healthy. Nobody who drinks red wine cares about this study. Wine is not health food. It tastes really good and makes you feel good.

    May 13, 2014 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Ian Welch

    “Beware of Studies

    Seriously, it seems there are more studies than news; or is it the news is composed of studies? Each day hundreds of studies are disseminated throughout the globe at the speed of light. 99% of the studies are not peer-reviewed, nor are they examined for scientific accuracy or more importantly scrutinized for bias.

    It is easy to sway an opinion. All you need is someone with credentials, research supporting your opinion and a delivery mechanism. Once the study is on the newswire, it is out there; no matter how inaccurate or slanted it is. And you can bet within hours it is water cooler chatter: “Hey, did you hear smoking is good for you? A new study today found a 100 year old man who smokes three packs a day, attributes his health to cigarettes.” Really? Who funded the study? “Uhh. It said a farmers public relations group from Winston-Salem, North Carolina…”

    Studies are a very important part of a broad marketing strategy for any product. If you are going to launch a new berry that enhances sexual performance, found only in Antarctica, you better have a couple studies showing the sexual prowess of penguins in the region. Better yet, a study showing the effects of the berries on college kids on Spring Break.

    Full comment: http://wholefed.org/2012/09/09/a-new-study-shows-99-of-all-studies/

    Ian Welch

    May 13, 2014 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Durwood M. Dugger

    The fact that JAMA published this incompetent and non-scientifically designed study (failing to reduce obvious and controlable variables) and that CNN published this article without a critical analysis of why the study violates basic science – speaks volumes about the incompetency of our medical system – and especially the corporate media like CNN that fails to critically report that incompetency. Frankly I wouldn't let CNN or Dr. Gupta apply a band aid – much less supply unbiased competent medical advice.

    May 13, 2014 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 1776usa2016

    Moderate wine consumption does appear to have some benefits.

    And people seem to enjoy it so what's the harm?


    May 13, 2014 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. American Patriot

    Reblogged this on Reality Check and commented:
    Well... it sounds to me like the medical profession wants us to spend more money on them and less on supplements....

    May 13, 2014 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. dmmcmah

    "which provides almost negligible amounts of resveratrol compared to the levels found in supplements and studied in mice."

    So the study doesn't really contradict the view resveratrol is beneficial. This is like vitamin c studies which are dose dependent. Studies showing vitamin c has no impact use far too low a dosage, and that is the case here. What needs to be done is find out what level is necessary through supplementation to get beneftis and work out the safety of that dosage.

    May 13, 2014 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. KJC

    My hypothesis is that the difference with the French has more to do with stress levels. They get significantly more time off from work and are even doing things like passing laws banning after-hours work emails. Stress does really bad things to the body.

    May 13, 2014 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. mickinmd

    "...the “French paradox” – an observation that the French have lower levels of heart disease despite consuming relatively high amounts of saturated fat..."

    I've always thought it's because the French – before the Internet, French McDonald's, etc. – walked so much. In the 90's their overweight people were 7% of the population compared to 1/3 of ours.

    I saw a 20 year-old shapely woman and her identically-shaped 40 year-old mother walking down a street on Paris's Right Bank and it suddenly hit me that it's not "natural" for women to lose their girlish looks by their 30's as in America. So yes, they have a fatty diet – but they burn it off. Or at least they did: today 38.5% of men and 26% of women in France are considered overweight.

    May 13, 2014 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
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  19. fungust0ad

    Drinking too much alcohol, smoking tobacco and living on a high fat diet will:
    a) Diminish your ability to function both long and short term.
    b) Shorten your life span.
    c) Keep you on the winning side in bar room arguments.

    May 13, 2014 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. svann

    Link to article states "Red wine benefit debunked"

    But that is not what the study found. The study actually debunked the idea that the resveratrol in the wine is good for your heart.

    May 13, 2014 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Balan Iyer

    Intake of Red Wine or otherwise, what calls for is extensive physical exercise to keep you tough and trim.

    May 14, 2014 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Fupped Duck

    Beer is Near.
    But Wine is Divine

    May 14, 2014 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. jeff bridges

    the studies that support repervatrol being good are false.

    May 14, 2014 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
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    id like to share with everyone something else thats avaiable in most parts of the country but is mostly ingored with exception to the generic version that comes with your tacos. im speaking of red flower tea also known as Jamaica flower or jamaica in the southwestern U.S. and is packed with so much flavanoid antioxidants they make cranberries look pretty weak by comparison. They might also be greener since a cup or two of dried flowers can make a potent gallon. Try sweetening it with stevia.

    May 25, 2014 at 13:55 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Unfortunately for all of these people trying to extend their lives, they will not be extending their 20's, 30's or 40's. They will be extending their 80's into their 90's, in other words, when they can't walk, when they are incontinent and otherwise infirm; most likely lost in the ever increasing world of Alzheimer's and dementia. If only we could extend our 20's and 30's instead....

    May 25, 2014 at 22:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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