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Showing posts from August, 2012

of mice, men and merlot

The latest round of enthusiastic news coverage about a study proclaiming that red wine improves balance and prevents falls in the elderly raises some important questions. First a summary of the study, which was presented at a recent conference but not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal: Lab mice fed high doses of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant from red wine, maintained better balance and mobility as they aged. Their nerve tissue resisted the effects of age, and follow-up studies showed that the neurons treated with resveratrol survived toxic doses of a brain chemical called dopamine, which causes stress similar to aging leading to cell death.
The implications of the study were widely interpreted to mean that resveratrol, and by extension red wine, could improve mobility in seniors and prevent fall that can lead to hip fractures and other problems. There are a few really important caveats here though: first, the doses of resveratrol were extraordinarily high, not achievable wi…