Resveratrol’s Real Importance
Live longer and decrease the incidence of cardiac diseases with the skin of red grapes.For the past year and a half, the press has bombarded us with news of resveratrol and its life-extending potential. Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and is a constituent of red wine, but not in sufficient amounts to explain why the French suffer a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. When a description of this paradox was aired on 60 Minutes in 1991 with the proposal that red wine decreases the incidence of cardiac diseases, the consumption of red wine increased 44% and some wineries began lobbying for the right to label their products “health food.”
Last year, a study found that high doses of resveratrol mimicked some of the benefits of caloric restriction (including reduced effects of aging) in mice. Now, millions clamor after low-dose supplements in hopes of extending their lives. It’s probably very good for you, and I take it every day. In fact, GlaxoSmithKline thought enough about it to buy the rights for $720 million. They are developing a high concentration resveratrol diabetes drug.
Dr. David Sinclair of Sirtris, the company that sold the rights to Glaxo isn’t bashful about expressing his opinion about how resveratrol has the potential to extend lives and that it might eventually be a potent anti-aging drug, even though it cannot be prescribed for life extension purposes. He also has positive opinions about life extension in general.
In an article by Reason from the fightaging.org archives, we see such an opinion:
“…In truth, we’re fighting aging and extending lifespan every time a doctor prescribes a statin drug or recommends a healthier diet to a patient. And the fact remains that science has not yet discovered an indisputable biological ‘expiration date’ for a human life, nor is there good evidence that one exists.
“In time, the idea of an inevitable, debilitating decline starting at age 50 will seem as horrifying and primitive as it does for us, in the age of potent antibiotic cocktails, to imagine a young person in the 19th century dying from an infection caused by a splinter. As a society, we should not accept a terrible period of suffering, dependence, sickness, and frailty if we don’t have to. There’s nothing more natural than marshalling the body’s own defenses to treat and heal itself, and that is precisely what longevity genes like SIRT1 do.”
SIRT1 is the gene that resveratrol activates.
I recently wrote how the Hollywood crowd is not yet well versed on extreme life extension possibilities, but they do embrace it once they hear a little about it. I found they are a more receptive than most and lots more receptive than many. However, even the least receptive, including those who object to extreme life extension, clamor for the latest anti-aging rage such as resveratrol.
This is very encouraging to me. Many think we will have lots of resistance, and even organized resistance to supporting longevity research. We see it now. But the positive reaction to a potentially mild life-extending supplement such as resveratrol has those same people rushing to the health food stores.
- Imagine what will happen when we develop and announce a dramatic life extender.
- Imagine how many will finally line up to invest in technologies that will help ensure your longevity.
So, I think the biggest contribution resveratrol makes to the life extension movement is not its potential life-extending properties. I think it is the attention it has drawn to anti-aging and the demonstration we see that even people resistant to longevity will reverse their opinions once they see hope for themselves.
The survival mechanism has a way of overriding all sorts of philosophical viewpoints. Let’s work to introduce an opinion reversing “killer app” soon.