Resveratrol, Red Wine, Diabetes, Cancer and Longevity

Ok a while back we talked about the longevity genes associated with the CR and IF studies as being Sirt1 gene expression (see the Longevity Gene post here). So now we come across a compound from grapes that may be able to express the longevity gene without needing CR or IF, this compound known as Resveratrol. But is it really all it is claimed to be….let’s look into it:

Red Wine Ingredient — Resveratrol — Fights Diabetes In Mice

Even relatively low doses of resveratrol–a chemical found in the skins of red grapes and in red wine–can improve the sensitivity of mice to the hormone insulin, according to a new report. As insulin resistance is often characterized as the most critical factor contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes, the findings “provide a potential new therapeutic approach for preventing or treating” both conditions, the researchers said.

The research group also confirmed that increased levels of an enzyme called SIRT1, which earlier studies had linked to longevity, DNA repair, and insulin secretion, improve insulin sensitivity in mice. Resveratrol is known to activate the SIRT1 enzyme.

Red Wine Compound Shown To Prevent Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have found that nutrients in red wine may help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.

In the study resveratrol-fed mice showed an 87 percent reduction in their risk of developing prostate tumors that contained the worst kind of cancer-staging diagnosis.

The study involved male mice that were fed a plant compound found in red wine called resveratrol, which has shown anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Other sources of resveratrol in the diet include grapes, raspberries, peanuts and blueberries.

Researchers Discover That A Protein In Grape Skins Can Kill Cancer Cells

It’s well known that drinking red wine in moderation can have some health benefits, mainly attributed to a compound called resveratrol. Now, scientists at the University of Virginia Health System have discovered how.

They found how resveratrol helps to starve cancer cells by inhibiting the action of a key protein that feeds them. Mayo said that the resveratrol in one glasses of wine three or four times a week is the right amount to block the protein from feeding cancer cells. Drinking much more than that, however, could stop this affect and, in fact, lead to a greater risk of cancer, he said.

Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in a number of plants, including grape skins, raspberries, mulberries and peanuts. Its job in nature is to fight fungus during the rainy season, and it is especially prevalent in grapes used in making red wine.

Small Molecule Increases Lifespan and “Healthspan” of Obese Mice

Researchers have used a single compound to increase the lifespan of obese mice, and found that the drug reversed nearly all of the changes in gene expression patterns found in mice on high calorie diets–some of which are associated with diabetes, heart disease, and other significant diseases related to obesity. The research, led by investigators at Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging, is the first time that the small molecule resveratrol has been shown to offer survival benefits in a mammal.

“The “healthspan” benefits we saw in the obese mice treated with resveratrol, such as increased insulin sensitivity, decreased glucose levels, healthier heart and liver tissues, are positive clinical indicators and may mean we can stave off in humans age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, but only time and more research will tell,” says Sinclair

Investigators identified resveratrol while looking for compounds that activate Sir2, an enzyme linked to lifespan extension in yeast and other lower organisms. For the last 70 years, scientists have been able to increase the lifespan of a variety of species by reducing their normal food consumption by 30 to 40 percent – a diet known as calorie restriction. Through this research, scientists identified Sir2 as a key contributor to life extension. Without Sir2, for example, fruit flies see none of the benefits from either calorie restriction or treatment by resveratrol. The mammalian version of the Sir2 gene is SIRT1, which has the same enzymatic activity as Sir2, but modifies a wider variety of molecules throughout cells. Indicators in this study show that resveratrol might also be activating SIRT1 in mice, as well as other known longevity pathways.

A Low Dose of Dietary Resveratrol Partially Mimics Caloric Restriction and Retards Aging Parameters in Mice

Our studies suggest that dietary consumption of a low dose of resveratrol partially mimics CR and inhibits some aspects of the aging process. In long lived rodent strains and in humans, lifespan is often limited by spontaneous tumorigenesis. Studies have determined that the ability of CR to inhibit spontaneous tumorigenesis is linked to the CR-mediated reduction in circulating IGF-1 [28], and in the case of mammary carcinogenesis can be reversed by the administration of IGF-1 to CR animals [29]. Our study design involved the use of a long-lived F1 hybrid mouse strain, and sacrificing mice at 30-months of age, therefore we were unable to evaluate effects of resveratrol on average or maximum lifespan. We note that unlike CR, resveratrol did not reduce circulating IGF-1 levels (Figure 2B), and there was also no decrease in spontaneous tumors at the time of sacrifice (Supplemental Table S2). In particular, spontaneous liver tumors were abundant in mice fed the control diet or resveratrol, but rare in CR mice. Thus, although a low dose of resveratrol can improve quality of life by retarding aging parameters such as cardiac dysfunction, a nutritional or pharmaceutical strategy to also increase lifespan in mice will likely require blockage of the IGF-1 axis or its targets.

from Chris over at Conditioning Research I found this study as well:

Low Sirt1 expression, which is upregulated by fasting, in human adipose tissue from obese women.

Likewise, lean women (n=12) had more than twofold higher Sirt1 expression in subcutaneous adipose tissue compared to obese women (n=12; 0.33-0.73 arbitrary units, P<0.05). Sirt1 was equally expressed in the stroma-vascular fraction and the isolated adipocyte fraction. Finally, in vitro, we demonstrated that resveratrol (a Sirt1 activator) significantly enhanced the lipolytic effect of epinephrine in human adipose tissue (P<0.05)

and from Mark at Marks Daily Apple we have this tidbit:

The ingredient in question is resveratol, a naturally occurring substance in wine, that stimulates a gene known as SIRT1. In previous studies, the SIRT1 gene has been found to increase the lifespan of rodents, but this is the first study to test the theory in humans.

For the study, researchers assigned 67 diabetic patients to receive doses of a proprietary form of the resveratol drug known as SRT501 in either 2,500 or 5,000 milligram (huge amounts) liquid doses. At the end of the 28 day study period, the researchers reported that SRT501 “significantly reduced blood sugar in 67 diabetic patients as compared with a placebo group.” In addition to the positive outcomes, the groups experienced no adverse effects.

Interesting stuff to ponder. So will we see more studies? Yes. Will there be more compounds to come along that also are found to increase Sirt1 activity? Possibly. Because we are now dealing with something that can be “manufactured” and “sold” by the big pharma/supplement companies we will see more research and more trials on it. Is it the magic fountain of youth pill? I wouldn’t count on it. Could you get the same results from a clean and healthy lifestyle of good foods, CR/IF and exercise? Quite possibly. Is a glass of red wine several times a week going to give you the same protection and benefits? It could.

I am also not a fan of a pill coming along to “replace” a healthy lifestyle of activity and eating the right foods, it should only compliment it. My rule with any supplement, only take it after you have adopted a healthy lifestyle of eating/rest/exercise and are seeing some results….never use it to replace it.

So when we come down to it, could it really be something to compliment an already healthy lifestyle and increase longevity? Who knows…..that’s the best part about a longevity pill…..the only way to know if it is working, is that you are still living. Funny huh? Should be interesting to keep an eye on this though and see what else comes from it.

photo by JessicaDeWinter

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