A new study strengthens previous evidence that the red-wine compound resveratrol can block human fat cells from developing, thereby mitigating obesity. A polyphenol produced by plants to defend against pathogens like bacteria and fungi, resveratrol is absorbed into wine from grape skins. Past studies examining the compound's impact on obesity have tested by culturing human fat cells in a lab. For this study, published in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, a team of researchers at Paul Sabatier University in France and the University of the Basque Country in Spain surgically removed human mature adipocytes—fat cells—from overweight individuals just hours before their analysis. Study lead author Saioa Gomez Zorita noted that obese individuals process fats differently than others.
Zorita and her colleagues incubated the human fat cells with varying doses of resveratrol, then measured their triglyceride breakdown, the process by which fatty acids get released into the bloodstream. "Our experiments show that resveratrol impaired the entry of glucose into fat cells," explained Christian Carpéné, a co-author. They believe resveratrol can both prevent accumulation of new fat and help break down existing fat. Carpéné warned, however, that the effective doses of resveratrol in their experiment were larger than could safely be consumed through wine and that it's still unknown how the human body metabolizes resveratrol.
It worked: The process induced tumor cell death. But not in the way they thought. "We found that cell death induced by red wine proceeded through a mechanism independent from its antioxidant activity," the authors explained in their article. Instead, the wine impacted protein activities that regulate cell behavior, and in this case, caused the cancer cell to kill itself. The scientists plan to up the gallic acid concentration in future experiments in hope they can control the growth of other malignant cancer cell lines.
Those who abstained from drinking were considerably more likely to have Graves’ disease than those who drank alcohol regularly. While only 12 percent of the control group abstained from drinking, 28 percent of the patients with Graves’ disease did not drink. Moreover, subjects who drank moderately (defined as 1 to 2 glasses per day) had Graves’ disease in even smaller numbers than those who drank minimally (defined as 1 to 2 glasses per week). The study’s authors write, “One can now add Graves’ disease to the list of autoimmune diseases—such as lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diabetes—known to be prevented by the effect of alcohol.” The type of alcohol consumed did not appear to make a difference.
A group of prominent nutrition scientists in Italy are going on the record to say they support the moderate consumption of alcohol. It's a big step, as daily alcohol guidelines in some European countries have become increasingly opposed to alcohol, even in moderation. The message from 36 scientists gained the approval of 19 separate general medicine and cardiology societies. "In healthy adults and in the elderly, spontaneous consumption of alcoholic beverages within 30 grams of alcohol daily [up to two drinks] for men and 15 for women is to be considered acceptable and does not deserve intervention by the primary care physician," reads the consensus statement, published in the medical journal Nutrition, Metabolism, & Cardiovascular Disease.
Some question, however, why the group recommended that doctors not advise abstainers to start drinking without citing study results supporting that conclusion. "The data they present shows again and again that abstinence, compared to moderate consumption, is a major risk factor for heart disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and other diseases," said Andrew Waterhouse, professor of viticulture and enology at the University of California at Davis.