Monday, January 26, 2009
60 Minutes and Resveratrol
We have to give credit to CBS TV's "60 Minutes" for breaking open the wine and health story 17 years ago with their segment on the French paradox. On January 25 2009 (last night as I write this) they aired a long overdue update on resveratrol, the polyphenol extract from red wine to which so many of the health properties are attributed. Of course, I covered all this in some detail in the first edition of Age Gets Better with Wine, and in the second edition which will be coming out this year there is a chapter devoted to resveratrol. But my readers will also appreciate that the resveratrol story is a bit more nuanced than you might assume from a short television segment. True, it seems to improve exercise tolerance, improve cholesterol levels, prevent and treat diabetes and cancer, prevent the brain changes associated with Alzheimer's, and trigger the genes that extend lifespan, at least in mice. But what of the effects in humans? Largely unknown. Let me repeat that: the effects of resveratrol supplementation in humans are still largely unknown. The biotech company Sirtris, which was acquired by GlaxoSmith Kline last year for more than $700 million, is developing synthetic molecules based on resveratrol, but hundreds of times more potent.