Wine Compound May Help Memory and Brain Function
Irene Maher Tampa Bay Times
Posted Aug 21, 2012
While some people might drink to forget -- the
drive home, the electric bill, an annoying co-worker -- it may be
that a substance in wine actually improves memory.
Some small pilot studies in mice have suggested that resveratrol,
a compound found in red wine, may play a role in preventing
diabetes, heart disease, cancer and memory loss. But there haven't
been any large-scale clinical trials to prove its benefits in
humans. Until now.
The National Institute on Aging is funding a 26-center clinical
trial to study resveratrol's effects on memory and brain function in
Alzheimer's disease. Locally, the University of South Florida
Health's Byrd Alzheimer's Institute is recruiting volunteers for the
study who have mild to moderate Alzheimer's.
"Some of the best researchers in the field will be working on
this study and we're happy to be in their company," said Dr. Amanda
Smith, medical director of the Byrd Institute. "We want to find out
whether use of resveratrol can change the course of Alzheimer's
disease and whether it improves or stabilizes memory."
Red wine isn't the only way to get resveratrol, but it is a
concentrated source. The substance is found in the skins of red
grapes and also in berries, tomatoes, peanuts and chocolate.
But before you crack open that cabernet thinking it's all you
need for brain health, read on:
"The concentration of resveratrol that will be in the capsules
we'll use in the study is akin to the amount in about 50 glasses of
red wine," said Smith.
Experts say that men should have no more than two servings of
alcohol a day; for women, the recommended limit is just one. More
than that, and you run the risk of addiction and numerous other
health hazards even if you don't drive while drinking.
The new study will determine how safe resveratrol is when
administered at high doses. If it's found to be safe, another phase
will determine dosing -- how much is needed to protect against
memory loss or delay progression of dementia.
Resveratrol is widely available in dietary supplements sold over
the counter. But Smith cautions against self-medicating, primarily
because it isn't known how much helps and if too much can hurt.
"Also, there are some people who shouldn't take resveratrol,"
said Smith. "Among them: Anyone with estrogen-positive breast
cancer, which could be affected (by high doses of resveratrol) and
some people with kidney problems."
Because the supplement industry isn't regulated like the
pharmaceutical industry, Smith notes that over-the-counter products
may vary in quality, purity and concentration from bottle to bottle
or manufacturer to manufacturer.
The Byrd Institute hopes to recruit 10 volunteers for the
year long study; 120 will be recruited nationally. Participants must
be at least 50 years old and be willing to undergo MRI scans and two
lumbar punctures, one at the beginning and one at the end of the
Researchers are always looking for both drug and non-drug methods
to treat Alzheimer's, which afflicts more than 5 million Americans.
About 100 drugs are being tested as possible treatments. Just
five have been approved to date, but they only treat symptoms.
Next year, the Byrd Institute will launch a study looking more
closely at the effects of aerobic exercise on memory.
© 2012 Chicago Daily Herald. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved