September 01, 2007
Resveratrol Reduces Prostate Cancer In Mice

Resveratrol continues to be the supplement which I'm not taking that I most wonder whether I should be taking. Resveratrol appears to confer some protection against prostate cancer.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – 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.

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.

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 mice that proved to have the highest cancer-protection effect earned it after seven months of consuming resveratrol in a powdered formula mixed with their food.

Other mice in the study, those fed resveratrol but still developed a less-serious form of prostate cancer, were 48 percent more likely to have their tumor growth halted or slowed when compared to mice who did not consume the compound, the UAB research team said.

A pair of recent articles from MIT's Technology Review provide a broader look at the science and commercial development efforts around resveratrol. At Harvard Medical School researcher David Sinclair believes resveratrol might extend our lives.

Sinclair's basic claim is simple, if seemingly improb­able: he has found an elixir of youth. In his Australian drawl, the 38-year-old Harvard University professor of pathology explains how he discovered that resveratrol, a chemical found in red wine, extends life span in mice by up to 24 percent and in other animals, including flies and worms, by as much as 59 percent. Sinclair hopes that resveratrol will bump up the life span of people, too. "The system at work in the mice and other organisms is evolutionarily very old, so I suspect that what works in mice will work in humans," he says.

Sinclair has co-founded a biotech start-up, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, to try to develop variations on resveratrol to develop them into drugs.

Sinclair and a few other researchers involved in biotech start-ups around Boston argue that drugs can turn on the same genes that calorie restriction activates and thereby extend life just like calorie restriction does.

Only 20 years ago, aging was considered too complex for pharmacological intervention, involving thousands of genes and pathways. However, geneticists studying model organisms such as yeast and worms discovered several genes that can dramatically extend healthy life span1. There are proaging genes such as IGF-1 and antiaging genes such as SIRT1.

While genes that control aging have only recently been discovered, scientists have known for many decades that a simple change in diet can dramatically slow the pace of aging. "Calorie restriction" (CR), the diet wherein calories are reduced 20 to 40 percent, is the most robust means of extending healthy life span in mammals, and several of the key longevity pathways seem to underlie the beneficial effects of this diet. CR also improves health parameters in higher organisms including humans3.

There is controversy over whether calorie restriction delivers its benefits via SIRT1 activation. Researchers are chasing other genes as activators of CR's life extending effects. But resveratrol might deliver benefits even if it does not do so by emulating CR.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 September 01 07:56 PM  Aging Diet Resveratrol


Comments
Carl Shulman said at September 1, 2007 9:25 PM:

Sinclair's work has to be taken in context: he has started a company, Sirtris, based on his resveratrol/sirtuin research, and now has a conflict of interest.

Carl Shulman said at September 1, 2007 9:27 PM:

Which you mentioned in the post, I now see.

Randall Parker said at September 1, 2007 11:19 PM:

Carl,

The second link above (the first Technology Review article) does a pretty good job of getting across that not everyone in the scientific community share's Sinclair's enthusiasm or his belief that resveratrol is recreating CR's effects.

I don't know what the deal is with resveratrol. Will it extend average human lifespan? I hope so. But I do not know.

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