German scientists have announced yet another finding supporting resveratrol‘s role in the French Paradox. The key discovery reported here is that resveratrol is capable of reducing the number of fat cells in humans. A summary can be found here.
This made my ears perk up, because, for the most part, the number of fat cells in an individual’s body is pretty constant from puberty to death. In most instances, it is the contents of the cells and not their number that increases as we put on “padding”. There are some extreme conditions, though, when preadipocytes – the precursor cells capable of developing into mature fat cells – can be induced to change into mature fat cells. Additionally, our reserve of “on-call” preadipocytes is pretty constant, changing only under extreme circumstances.
These extreme circumstances arise when a person is profoundly overweight as a result of yet unknown causes or identified metabolic derangements. In some of these individuals, the normal physiology of fat tissue is disrupted. It is for precisely these individuals that resveratrol may hold some promise. But it will take much time before anything of any remote clinical value is brought to market.
In the meantime, I think of this body image-crazy culture of ours. It’s hard not to -I live in Southern California, the nip-tuck capital of the U.S. I’m not worried that body-consciuos coeds will slip into alcoholism and cirrhoisis as a result of this annuncement. I don’t expect sales of TrimSpa to plummet and those of wine to experience a concurent surge. However, it’s funny how people will justify some decisions…
While part of my goals with redwinebuzz.com and wine sooth is to tell people about wine, I also feel an obligation to remind them that there is no such thing as a panacea and that everything has its price. Even if resveratrol has real positive effects on body fat and heart health, it is still an alcoholic drink and moderation is key.
Joe Roberts at 1WineDude has been doing a very good and level-headed series on the health benefits if wine (archived here and here). The articles are well done, easy to understand and I commend him for the effort. I encourage everyone to read them.
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