Maybe Red Wine Isn’t So Good For You

Resveratrol, an ingredient in red wine, might not be as healthy as advertised:

Initially, resveratrol was identified as a possible explanation for the “French paradox”— the surprising fact that, despite consuming high amounts of saturated fat, French people have much lower rates of heart disease than Americans. Soon, resveratrol was being hailed as a magic bullet against heart disease, cancer and aging, and is now sold as a concentrated supplement in health stores across the land.

But the first study on the long-term effects of resveratol on people was just published in the Journal of American Medicine, and its findings are pretty damning. After tracking 783 older Italians over the course of 11 years, researchers found that resveratrol consumption had absolutely no positive impact on rates of heart disease, cancer, or mortality.

Virginia Hughes criticizes how this study has been covered in the media:

So I read that study and thought, this is important: My readers who buy or are thinking of buying resveratrol might appreciate knowing that its benefits haven’t panned out in people, at least not yet. Sure, a future study in people might report some benefit of resveratrol, but for now all I can do is offer the current state of knowledge. And that’s better than nothing, right?

But then…maybe it’s not. Take a look at those headlines again. I suspect a general reader is not coming away from those saying, “Gee whiz, look at the long and bumpy road to scientific progress!” They’re more likely to be saying, “When will those scientists get their act together?” Or worse, “Why do we keep dumping money into this capricious discipline?”