Human Exceptionalism

Carpe Vinum

If it’s not red, it’s not wine, says I–not only one of earth’s fine pleasures but also supposedly good for you. And now further evidence has come in demonstrating the virtues of vino rosso. From the story:

Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs.The study is based on dosing mice with resveratrol, an ingredient of some red wines. Some scientists are already taking resveratrol in capsule form, but others believe it is far too early to take the drug, especially using wine as its source, until there is better data on its safety and effectiveness.

It seems to me that there is actually much less here than meets the eye, especially in light of the amounts of the synthetic wine ingredient given mice to obtain an impact:

Separately from Sirtris’s investigations, a research team led by Tomas A. Prolla and Richard Weindruch, of the University of Wisconsin, reports in the journal PLoS One on Wednesday that resveratrol may be effective in mice and people in much lower doses than previously thought necessary. In earlier studies, like Auwerx’s of mice on treadmills, the animals were fed such large amounts of resveratrol that to gain equivalent dosages people would have to drink more than 100 bottles of red wine a day.

The Wisconsin scientists used a dose on mice equivalent to just 35 bottles a day. But red wine contains many other resveratrol-like compounds that may also be beneficial. Taking these into account, as well as mice’s higher metabolic rate, a mere four, five-ounce glasses of wine “starts getting close” to the amount of resveratrol they found effective, Weindruch said.

A “mere” 4 glasses of wine, I assume a day? If I drank that much seven days a week I would eventually balloon to 300 pounds–not exactly a prescription for longevity.

I know the point is to create a longevity pill, but how likely is that?

Another researcher in the sirtuin field, Dr. Matthew Kaeberlein of the University of Washington in Seattle, said, “There’s no way of knowing from this data, or from the prior work, if something similar would happen in humans at either low or high doses.”

So far more than 20 years have gone into this. But as a commentator in another story about this research put it, the real best bet to increase longevity is exercise. And in the end, we all die anyway. Live with it.

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