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    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Legal Performance Enhancer

    Everybody knows an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

    A new USC study reveals a hundred apples a day might win the race.

    Of course, that’s a gross oversimplification, and eating 100 apples daily would cause other problems. But the study is a major addition to the growing medical literature on the benefits of quercetin — a substance found in the skins of fruits and vegetables, including apples.

    The study found quercetin boosted energy and endurance significantly in healthy college-age participants who weren’t training for athletics. Given 1,000 milligrams of quercetin mixed in liquid with Tang for seven days, the participants saw increases of 13.2 percent in endurance and 3.9 percent in maximal oxygen capacity.

    In other words, simply by taking quercetin, these young people increased their fitness. It sounds too good to be true, more suited for a late night infomercial than the pages of the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, where the USC study was published this month.

    “Is this the magic exercise pill that we’re all looking for?” said Mark Davis, the study’s lead author and a professor of exercise science at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health. “Of course not. But the results show you do get some of the benefits (normally derived from exercise) without exercise.”

    Researchers have been delving into quercetin’s potential in battling cancer and increasing endurance for years, but this is one of the first peer-reviewed studies on the possible performance benefits of the compound, Davis said.

    It would be nearly impossible to get the volume of quercetin used in the study in your daily diet. A red apple has about 10 milligrams of quercetin. But there are powder supplements that include quercetin, and quercetin is a major ingredient in FRS Healthy Energy drink, which quickly added a link to the study on its Web site.

    Often, these kinds of studies are funded in part by companies that could benefit from the findings. But in this case, the U.S. Department of Defense funded the study to determine if quercetin could be used in its combat feeding program, Davis said.

    Some athletes aren’t waiting. Cyclist Lance Armstrong has been preaching the benefits of quercetin for years. Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers also is a spokesman for FRS, which includes about 400 milligrams of quercetin in an 11.5-ounce drink.

    Davis’ team began studying quercetin in mice three years ago before moving up to humans. It already is working on a follow-up study that includes examination of muscle cells.

    “We believe that this could be a major breakthrough in nutrition,” Davis said.

    At the same time, he’s trying to be cautious. Other researchers will have to come up with similar findings before the scientific community gives the absolute, all-clear recommendation on use of quercetin as a performance enhancer. Davis said he especially wants to gain a better understanding of how it works.

    The USC study team believes quercetin increases the formation of mitochondria, which produce the energy in muscle and brain cells. If further studies prove that idea, quercetin also could be used to slow age-related dementia, Davis said.

    Because quercetin also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it could help fight colon cancer and heart disease.

    Like many of the thousands of flavonoids — compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables — quercetin seems to be good for just about anything that ails you.

    The more scientists look into flavonoids, the more they recognize how smart those parental pleas for you to eat your vegetables were.


    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Quercetin Boosts Endurance, Fitness

    Quercetin may not be a household word—yet. But a study by researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health shows the powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory compound found in fruits and vegetables significantly boosts endurance capacity and maximal oxygen capacity (VO2max) in healthy, active but untrained men and women.

    The findings of the study—one of the first in humans to examine the energy-boosting effects of quercetin—are reported in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, published online Wednesday, June 24.

    Dr. Mark Davis, the study’s lead author and a professor of exercise science, said the fatigue-fighting and health properties of quercetin—found in the skins of red apples, red onions, berries and grapes—have implications not only for athletes and soldiers whose energy and performance are tested to the extreme, but also for average adults who battle fatigue and stress daily.

    “The natural, biological properties of quercetin that include powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, as well as the ability to boost the immune system and increase mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in muscle and brain is great news for those who often think that they’re too tired to exercise,” Davis said.

    “While there’s no magic pill to make people get up and move, or to take the place of regular exercise, quercetin may be important in relieving the fatigue that keeps them sedentary and in providing some of the benefits of exercise,” he said. “We believe that this could be a major breakthrough in nutrition.”

    For the study, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, 12 participants were randomly assigned to one of two treatments. Half were given 500 mg of quercetin twice a day in Tang for seven days. The other subjects drank Tang with placebos. After the seven days of treatment, during which the subjects were told not to alter their physical activity, the participants rode stationary bicycles to the point of fatigue.

    Researchers also tested their additional VO2max, one of the most important measures of fitness. Then the participants received the opposite treatment for another seven days before riding the bicycle to the point of fatigue and VO2max tests. Neither the participants nor the research staff knew who received the quercetin Tang or the placebo Tang, and all subjects took part in the quercetin and placebo treatments.

    “The participants were healthy, relatively active, college-age students, but they were not physically trained athletes, and they were not taking part in a regular exercise training program,” he said.

    The results: After taking quercetin for only seven days, the participants had a 13.2 percent increase in endurance and a 3.9 percent increase in VO2max.

    “These were statistically significant effects that indicate an important improvement in endurance capacity in a very short time,” Davis said. “Quercetin supplementation was able to mimic some of the effects of exercise training.

    Although the study did not examine why the results were so dramatic, Davis said pre-clinical data suggest that quercetin may increase the mitochondria in brain and muscle cells. He likened the mitochondria to the “powerhouse of the cell,” producing most of its energy. Mitochondria in brain and muscle also are believed to be fundamentally important in battling age-related dementia, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular dysfunction.

    “One of the most important biological mechanisms for increasing endurance is increasing the mitochondria,” said Davis. “More mitochondria in the brain and muscle would enhance both mental and physical energy, as well as provide a better ability to fight other diseases in which mitochondrial dysfunction are hallmarks.”

    Quercetin also appears to have valuable properties to fight inflammation, which has been linked to health problems such as colon cancer and heart disease. Davis’ research group has recently received a National Institutes of Health grant to study quercetin’s effects on colon cancer and others are pending that involve breast cancer.

    “If the findings of this study and others on the biological mechanisms of quercetin are confirmed in future clinical studies, the implications go beyond improvements in endurance,” he said. “We may find that quercetin may work in conjunction with regular physical activity as an ally in preventing and treating diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases and the degenerative diseases of aging.”


    Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    The Benefits Of Resveratrol

    An antioxidant found in the skin of grapes, resveratrol may help promote heart health by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, preventing damage to blood vessels, and reducing risk of blood clotting and inflammation.

    One of the richest sources of resveratrol is red wine, which is fermented with grape skins longer than white wine. Resveratrol is also sold as a dietary supplement.

    The Benefits of Resveratrol

    So far, most of the research on resveratrol's health effects has been carried out in tests on animals and laboratory cultures. While human-based research is lacking, the compound shows promise as a natural defense against several types of chronic disease.

    Resveratrol and Cancer

    In a 2008 study on cell cultures, resveratrol helped suppress breast-cancer progression in its earliest stages. The antioxidant appeared to stop estrogen from reacting with DNA molecules and forming compounds that mark the start of cancer cell formation.

    Resveratrol and Heart Health

    Resveratrol may help guard against age-related decline in heart health, according to a 2008 study on middle-aged mice. Researchers examined more than 1,000 genes in the heart, all of which change in function as we age. But in mice fed low doses of resveratrol, that age-related change was thwarted by 92%.

    Given these findings, the study's authors suggest that regular intake of resveratrol may serve as "a robust intervention in the retardation of cardiac aging." Of course, it's important to remember that research done on animals does not confirm equal efficacy in humans.

    Resveratrol and Age-Related Disorders

    In a 2009 review of recent studies on red wine's health effects, researchers determined that -- in addition to helping protect against heart disease and cancer -- resveratrol may aid in the prevention of age-related disorders like inflammation and neurodegenerative disease. The review also indicated that resveratrol may help reduce risk of diabetes.

    Red Wine for Better Health?

    While research shows that drinking red wine may help shield against heart disease -- possibly due to resveratrol's heart-healthy effects -- it's important to note that consuming too much alcohol may raise your risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, obesity, and some forms of cancer.

    Resveratrol Supplements

    Although most drugstores and health food stores sell resveratrol in capsule form, few studies have explored the health benefits of taking resveratrol supplements. For now, increase your resveratrol intake by eating grapes, blueberries, cranberries, and pomegranate, all of which are rich in a range of antioxidants.


    Barger JL, Kayo T, Vann JM, Arias EB, Wang J, Hacker TA, Wang Y, Raederstorff D, Morrow JD, Leeuwenburgh C, Allison DB, Saupe KW, Cartee GD, Weindruch R, Prolla TA. "A low dose of dietary resveratrol partially mimics caloric restriction and retards aging parameters in mice." PLoS ONE 2008 4;3(6):e2264.

    Brown L, Kroon PA, Das DK, Das S, Tosaki A, Chan V, Singer MV, Feick P. "The Biological Responses to Resveratrol and Other Polyphenols From Alcoholic Beverages." Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research 2009 10.

    Lu F, Zahid M, Wang C, Saeed M, Cavalieri EL, Rogan EG. "Resveratrol prevents estrogen-DNA adduct formation and neoplastic transformation in MCF-10F cells." Cancer Prevention Research 2008 1(2):135-45.


    Monday, June 22, 2009

    Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer Progression

    PHILADELPHIA—According to results of a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, men with prostate cancer who consumed the active compounds in green tea demonstrated a significant reduction in serum markers predictive of prostate cancer progression.

    “The investigational agent used in the trial, Polyphenon E (provided by Polyphenon Pharma) may have the potential to lower the incidence and slow the progression of prostate cancer,” said James A. Cardelli, Ph.D., professor and director of basic and translational research in the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport.

    Green tea is the second most popular drink in the world, and some epidemiological studies have shown health benefits with green tea, including a reduced incidence of prostate cancer, according to Cardelli. However, some human trials have found contradictory results. The few trials conducted to date have evaluated the clinical efficacy of green tea consumption and few studies have evaluated the change in biomarkers, which might predict disease progression.

    Cardelli and colleagues conducted this open-label, single-arm, phase II clinical trial to determine the effects of short-term supplementation with green tea’s active compounds on serum biomarkers in patients with prostate cancer. The biomarkers include hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and prostate specific antigen (PSA). HGF and VEGF are good prognostic indicators of metastatic disease.

    The study included 26 men, aged 41 to 72 years, diagnosed with prostate cancer and scheduled for radical prostatectomy. Patients consumed four capsules containing Polyphenon E until the day before surgery—four capsules are equivalent to about 12 cups of normally brewed concentrated green tea, according to Cardelli. The time of study for 25 of the 26 patients ranged from 12 days to 73 days, with a median time of 34.5 days.

    Findings showed a significant reduction in serum levels of HGF, VEGF and PSA after treatment, with some patients demonstrating reductions in levels of greater than 30 percent, according to the researchers.

    Cardelli and colleagues found other biomarkers were also positively affected. There were only a few reported side effects associated with this study, and liver function remained normal.

    Results of a recent year-long clinical trial conduced by researchers in Italy demonstrated consumption of green tea polyphenols reduced the risk of developing prostate cancer in men with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN).

    “These studies are just the beginning and a lot of work remains to be done, however, we think that the use of tea polyphenols alone or in combination with other compounds currently used for cancer therapy should be explored as an approach to prevent cancer progression and recurrence,” Cardelli said.

    William G. Nelson, V., M.D., Ph.D., professor of oncology, urology and pharmacology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, believes the reduced serum biomarkers of prostate cancer may be attributable to some sort of benefit relating to green tea components.

    “Unfortunately, this trial was not a randomized trial, which would have been needed to be more sure that the observed changes were truly attributable to the green tea components and not to some other lifestyle change (better diet, taking vitamins, etc.) men undertook in preparation for surgery,” added Nelson, who is also a senior editor for Cancer Prevention Research. However, “this trial is provocative enough to consider a more substantial randomized trial.”

    In collaboration with Columbia University in New York City, the researchers are currently conducting a comparable trial among patients with breast cancer. They also plan to conduct further studies to identify the factors that could explain why some patients responded more dramatically to Polyphenon E than others. Cardelli suggested that additional controlled clinical trials should be done to see if combinations of different plant polyphenols were more effective than Polyphenon E alone.

    “There is reasonably good evidence that many cancers are preventable, and our studies using plant-derived substances support the idea that plant compounds found in a healthy diet can play a role in preventing cancer development and progression,” said Cardelli.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    A Headache For Dr. Oz

    Celebrity surgeon's endorsement of a longevity pill has sparked a rag-tag industry of sellers using fake news sites and phony health claims--starring Dr. Oz.

    Oprah Winfrey's latest protégé, Dr. Mehmet Oz, made some startling claims this spring in appearances on Oprah and Good Morning America. Dr. Oz, whom Winfrey calls "America's doctor," talked up the anti-aging properties of resveratrol, a substance found in red wine. Oprah looked a tad skeptical as Dr. Oz, sitting in hospital scrubs and holding a bowl of green pills, described his belief that drinking red wine could substantially slow aging. To get enough resveratrol, however, you'd have to drink 24 bottles of wine a day. Or, you could just take a resveratrol pill.

    After appearing as Oprah's health expert for the past five years, the 49-year-old Oz, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, is preparing to host his own daytime show produced by Oprah this fall.

    When Dr. Oz speaks, people listen. His glowing endorsements of resveratrol have spawned an overnight industry of shadowy peddlers of the stuff. Dozens of Web sites using his name or image have appeared, usually offering free trials of resveratrol. One of the biggest operators is a North Miami Beach, Fla.-based company called FWM Laboratories that runs phony local television news Web sites hawking its anti-aging pills.

    At the top of the Drudge Report's homepage, pictures of Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston and Marisa Tomei are captioned: "How does she look so young?" A photo of Dr. Oz appears alongside the actresses. Clicking Dr. Oz brings you to "News 3," supposedly a Web site for a local television news outfit in Sacramento, Calif., which carries an article titled "Health Specialist Janice Wilson Reports on Her Experience Using Resveratrol." The same ads on other sites take users to sister pages with the same reports, like "News 9" (New Jersey) and "News 5" (Austin, Texas).

    On each site, the reporter confides that her news director asked her to do an "investigative report" on resveratrol. So she challenged two colleagues, including an attractive photographer, Vivian, whose picture accompanies the story, to try it. After a 30-day trial, Wilson writes that they slept better, had fewer wrinkles and even noticed more volume in their hair. Apparently, resveratrol even gave one a new body (on the Sacramento page "Vivian" is a 30-something blue-eyed blonde; on the Austin page she is an auburn-haired woman in her 40s). In the middle of these news accounts, which sit next to real-time AccuWeather updates, is a link to "Resveratrol Ultra," which--surprise--is described as the most "reputable" resveratrol product on the market.

    Click that link and you get to the offer: a free 30-day supply of resveratrol pills (pay only $2.94 shipping and handling). At the bottom of the page, beneath a slew of news stories, is the clincher. The site states your credit card will be debited a recurring charge of $85.26 a month to keep your supply of pills current, unless you cancel in 10 days.

    Last month, the Resveratrol Ultra site drew 833,000 unique visitors. It has also drawn the lion's share of postings from 285 angry buyers on, many of whom contend they were ripped off by FWM Laboratories, which makes Resveratrol Ultra and other supplements. Many write that after they tried to cancel their free trials, the company made monthly charges to their credit cards anyway. One buyer contends the capsules he was sent do not contain Resveratrol, but Japanese knotweed.

    The Better Business Bureau rates the company an "F" and lists 2,694 consumer complaints against FWM Labs. The Florida Attorney General's Office is unhappy with FWM, too. It is investigating similar unauthorized credit card charge complaints involving another product. Attempts by phone and e-mail to reach FWM or the company's only listed executive, Vice President Brian Weiss, were unsuccessful.

    Other rag-tag sites peddle resveratrol using Dr. Oz's imprimatur far more aggressively. There's the incorrectly spelled "Dr. Os Resveratrol," fronted by a photo of a beaming Dr. Oz, stating, "How would you like to live to be 125?" There is "Dr. Oz Resveratrol," "Dr. Oz Anti-Aging Secrets" and "Dr. Oz Resveratrol Wrinkle Cream." Another says, "Click Here to Get Free Dr. Oz's Resveratrol Top Choice!" Many of these sites draw from 30,000 to 160,000 unique visitors a month--some more, according to Quantcast. These pages often display earlier reports on CBS' ( CBS - news - people )60 Minutes and a Harvard study lauding the health benefits of resveratrol.

    What power does resveratrol really have? Found in the skin of red grapes, it is one of a key group of enzymes called sirtuins. Worms, fruit flies, even yeast cells fed resveratrol in studies have lived longer. Resveratrol treatment helped fat mice live as long as healthy thin mice. But it didn't extend the lives of mice that were already healthy in one study. Researchers don't know what it will do in humans.

    Dr. Oz says he does not endorse or profit from any resveratrol maker. He declined an interview with Forbes but said in a statement that he could not vouch for the "authenticity, safety or effectiveness" of any resveratrol seller. "Unfortunately, several companies are attempting to deceive consumers through the unauthorized use of my image or my name, and my attorneys are pursuing those making these false claims," he says.

    When Dr. Oz's show launches in September, chances are he'll think twice about such endorsements. Topics he's expected to discuss on the show include infrared sauna baths and the healing properties of hyperbaric oxygen. If you see a Dr. Oz-hosted site selling air, think twice.


    Friday, June 12, 2009

    Red Wine Ingredient Is A "Wonderdrug"

    An ingredient of red wine really is a 'wonderdrug', claim scientists, after research suggested it kills cancer cells and protects the heart and brain from damage.

    Researchers claim moderate drinking of red wine appears to reduce "all causes of mortality" and protects people from age-related disorders such as dementia, diabetes and high blood pressure.
    They said that the key ingredient appears to be resveratrol which in small doses acts as an antioxidant protecting organs but in larger quantities kills dangerous cancer cells.

    "The breadth of benefits is remarkable – cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more," said Professor Lindsay Brown of the University of Queensland.

    The conclusions were drawn by Professor Brown and her team after a "mini review" of a number of recent studies about the health benefits of red wine published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

    The biochemists said that red wine appears to contain a number of antioxidants - naturally-occurring protective compounds - which are good for your health but that resveratrol was the most powerful.

    They concluded that it "shows therapeutic potential" for cancer and heart disease and may aid in the prevention of age-related disorders that affect the brain and the body.

    The ability to protect healthy cells but kill diseased ones was still puzzling scientists, the study claimed, but they said the most likely explanation was low concentrations "activate survival mechanisms of cells while high concentrations turn on the inbuilt death signals in these cells". But the researchers warned that moderation was the key as too much drinking causes multiple organ damage.

    Professor Stephen Taylor, also at the University of Queensland, said that resveratrol is the "compound du jour" and that its beauty was that it is a medicine most people enjoy taking. "I think that red wine has both some mystique and some historical symbolism in the west and of course, some various pleasures attached to its ingestion, all of which give it a psychological advantage edge, food-wise," he said.

    He said "not many of us can or will eat a couple of cups of blueberries a day for years on end" but we were happy to have a glass of wine.

    Professor Brown said the research was starting to explain reports from the last 200 years that drinking red wine improves health.

    "It is a cliché that nature is a treasure trove of compounds," she said. "But studies with resveratrol show that this is correct. We need to understand better the vast array of compounds that exist in nature, and determine their potential benefits to health."


    Red-wine Polyphenol Called Resveratrol Demonstrates Significant Health Benefits

    The benefits of alcohol are all about moderation. Low to moderate drinking – especially of red wine – appears to reduce all causes of mortality, while too much drinking causes multiple organ damage. A mini-review of recent findings on red wine's polyphenols, particularly one called resveratrol, will be published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research; the review is also available at Early View.

    "Reports on the benefits of red wine are almost two centuries old," said Lindsay Brown, associate professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Queensland and corresponding author for the study. "The media developed the more recent story of the French paradox in the early 1990s. However, studies on the actions of resveratrol, one of the active non-alcoholic ingredients, were uncommon until research around 1997 showed prevention of cancers. This led to a dramatic interest in this compound."

    Red wine contains a complex mixture of bioactive compounds, including flavonols, monomeric and polymeric flavan-3-ols, highly colored anthocyanins, as well as phenolic acids and the stilbene polyphenol, resveratrol. Brown said that some of these compounds, particularly resveratrol, appear to have health benefits.

    "The breadth of benefits is remarkable – cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more," said Brown. "It has long been a question as to how such a simple compound could have these effects but now the puzzle is becoming clearer with the discovery of the pathways, especially the sirtuins, a family of enzymes that regulate the production of cellular components by the nucleus. 'Is resveratrol the only compound with these properties?' This would seem unlikely, with similar effects reported for other components of wine and for other natural products such as curcumin. However, we know much more about resveratrol relative to these other compounds."

    Stephen Taylor, professor of pharmacology at the University of Queensland, agreed that resveratrol is the "compound du jour."

    "I think that red wine has both some mystique and some historical symbolism in the west," said Taylor, "and of course, some various pleasures attached to its ingestion, all of which give it a psychological advantage edge, food-wise. Not many of us can or will eat a couple of cups of blueberries a day for years on end, but if we could do a population study for a decade or so on such a group, you might actually see similar results."

    Key points of the review include:
    • Resveratrol exhibits therapeutic potential for cancer chemoprevention as well as cardioprotection.
    "It sounds contradictory that a single compound can benefit the heart by preventing damage to cells, yet prevent cancer by causing cell death, said Brown. "The most likely explanation for this, still to be rigorously proved in many organs, is that low concentrations activate survival mechanisms of cells while high concentrations turn on the in-built death signals in these cells."

    • Resveratrol may aid in the prevention of age-related disorders, such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

    "The simplest explanation is that resveratrol turns on the cell's own survival pathways, preventing damage to individual cells," said Brown. "Further mechanisms help, including removing very reactive oxidants in the body and improving blood supply to cells."

    • Low doses of resveratrol improve cell survival as a mechanism of cardio- and neuro-protection, while high doses increase cell death.
    "The key difference is probably the result of activation of the sirtuins in the nucleus," said Brown. "Low activation reverses age-associated changes, while high activation increases the process of apoptosis or programmed cell death to remove cellular debris. Similar changes are seen with low-dose versus high-dose resveratrol: low-dose resveratrol produces cellular protection and reduces damage, while high-dose resveratrol prevents cancers."

    In summary, noted Brown, current scientific research is starting to explain reports from the last 200 years that drinking red wine improves health. "It is a cliché that 'nature is a treasure trove of compounds,' but studies with resveratrol show that this is correct! We need to understand better the vast array of compounds that exist in nature, and determine their potential benefits to health."

    "There is one particular point that deserves fleshing out," added Taylor. "Resveratrol is largely inactivated by the gut or liver before it reaches the blood stream, where it exerts its effects – whatever they may be – good, bad, or indifferent. Thus, most of the reseveratrol in imbibed red wine does not reach the circulation. Interestingly, absorption via the mucous membanes in the mouth can result in up to around 100 times the blood levels, if done slowly rather than simply gulping it down. Of course, we don't know if these things matter yet, but issues like this are real and generally ignored by all."


    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Red Wine Compound May Help Slow Aging Process

    For years, scientists have known that red wine can provide certain health benefits. Regular red wine drinkers often have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as other disorders associated with aging. Now researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are studying the active ingredient in red wine to see whether it might enhance longevity in some people.

    Called resveratrol, the compound is found in grapes, berries and some seeds. Animal studies indicate that resveratrol may help slow aging by influencing a particular genetic pathway believed to play a role in regulating lifespan in animals, and Samuel Klein, M.D., the Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science, says there is some evidence that the substance may act the same way in people. He's giving study volunteers reseveratrol in pill form and comparing some markers of longevity in this group to those same markers in others who get a placebo, as well as a third group of individuals placed on a calorie restriction diet, which also has been linked to slower aging.

    The researchers will be looking at aspects of metabolic function associated with aging. As people get older, they become less sensitive to insulin, so they study looks at insulin action in both the liver and in fat tissue and muscle tissue. They'll also examine gene expression in these tissues because differences in gene expression also occur with aging. Finally, the researchers will analyze mitochondrial function in cells because the mitochondria that are the energy-producing components of cells also are affected by aging.

    Subjects in the 12-week study will receive much higher doses of resveratrol than what they could get from drinking red wine alone.

    "The amount in wine is quite small compared to what we can deliver in pill form," Klein explains. "To get a comparable amount of this compound from wine alone, a person would need to drink about 600 bottles of wine per day."

    For now, Klein's team is studying only post-menopausal women so that they are able to compare "apples to apples" and not have to worry about the influence of hormones in younger women or in men, who also have hormone variations. But Klein says if this study shows promise, the researchers hope to expand the pool of eligible participants. For more information about the study, please call Volunteer for Health at (314) 362-1000 or on visit the website at


    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Resveratrol Investigated as Treatment for Neuroblastoma & Ocular/Uveal Melanoma

    Resveratrol is being proposed for clinical trials against neuroblastoma. A team led by Arthur Polans, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, part of the University of Washington Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, has been studying the substance for about five years, using it successfully to treat several types of cancer in mice. The group has now applied for permission to use it to treat neuroblastoma.

    Resveratrol is a promising treatment for young children because it's not toxic to healthy cells, only to cancer cells, Dr. Polans said in a news release. How do you treat infants without causing other problems in the years to come? That is the kind of question that intrigues us.

    In addition, because resveratrol seems to kill cancer kills while leaving healthy tissue alone, it is also being looked at to treat ocular or uveal melanoma, which typically stays dormant for many years before metastasizing.

    It's one of those rotten cancers, Dr. Polans said. We don't know what causes it and we don't know how to treat it effectively. While the cancers are very different, adults who develop melanoma of the eye have something in common with babies who develop neuroblastoma-they may live for a long time after their diagnosis, so potential treatments shouldn't cause other health problems.

    What neuroblastoma and uveal melanoma have in common is the factor of time. Ideally, you'd like to be able to treat them aggressively at first, and then treat them with lower doses of a non-toxic compound over time. Otherwise, you run the risk of damage to vital organs or an increase in secondary tumors.

    So far, his group has shown that resveratrol shrinks tumors and kills malignant cells in five types of cancer: melanoma, breast cancer, neuroblastoma, ocular melanoma, and retinoblastoma.

    Mice that were treated with resveratrol are healthy, gain weight, and don't seem to have side effects, he said, but when you look at the cancer cells, they're dying.

    In basic research on resveratrol, his group has developed new forms that are more potent and that are active in the body for longer periods than the common form of the substance.


    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Resveratrol Is One of Many Food Compounds That Can Stave Off Disease

    "Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness" (Edward Stanley, English politician and author, 1826-1893).

    These words, written over a century ago, ring so true today. There is increasing medical research to support the idea that many of our chronic medical conditions are not solely the result of bad luck, aging or part of our genetic destiny. Chronic disease is, in great measure, the result of our nutritionally poor diet. Every year, more research shows that a truly nutritious diet may prevent a number of serious medical conditions, including Alzheimer's disease.

    Alzheimer's disease is now the most common form of dementia in the US. It may be that Alzheimer's is incurable, however, medical research strongly suggests that it may be preventable with simple lifestyle changes. Regular exercise of the body and mind as well as a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fats all seems to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

    Now we can add resveratrol to that list. Resveratrol is a compound produced by plants and protects them from bacteria and fungi. It is found in many foods including grapes, peanuts and even red wine.

    Research has demonstrated that resveratrol has antifungal as well as anti-cancer properties. Some data indicate that, in some animals, resveratrol can prolong life. How it works is unknown but it seems to make cells function better.

    This simple plant compound may be especially important in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer's disease. In a recent study using mice, resveratrol was found to significantly reduce the formation of amyloid plaque. Amyloid plaque is believed to contribute to the brain cell death associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

    This study, done at the Burke Medical Research Institute at Cornell University, demonstrated that, within 45 days after adding resveratrol to the diet, there was a measurable decrease in amyloid plaque formation in "Alzheimer mice". Interestingly, resveratrol itself was not directly responsible for the decrease in amyloid plaque. Resveratrol was not found in the brains of these mice.

    However, brain levels of other natural antioxidants, glutathione and cysteine, increased significantly in those mice taking resveratrol. This suggests that resveratrol somehow enhanced brain levels of glutathione and cysteine and this increase in glutathione and cysteine modified the cellular mechanism for producing amyloid plaque ... possibly slowing progression of, or preventing, Alzheimer's disease. Very interesting.

    Although much of the medical news on chronic disease seems to focus on new and better drugs, the more we look, the more we discover that Mother Nature has provided much of what we need for lifelong health.

    Sometimes, the solution may be as close as your grocery store.

    • Patrick B. Massey, M.D., Ph.D, is medical director for alternative and complementary medicine for the Alexian Brothers Medical Network.