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Red wine pill could slow dementia

A US clinical trial has found that a pill containing a concentrated dose of the antioxidant resveratrol – a compound found in red wine and dark chocolate – could slow down the onset of dementia.

The study used a high dose of resveratrol equivalent to that found in 1,000 glasses of red wine (Photo: Wiki)

The findings, published in the journal Neurology by the Georgetown University Medical Centre, come from a nationwide trial which used 119 participants to study the effects of high-dose resveratrol in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

The study found that a biomarker that normally declines as the disease develops became stable in participants who took a purified form of resveratrol.

The highest dose used in the study was one gram of resveratrol twice a day, which is equivalent to that found in 1,000 bottles of red wine.

The antioxidant benefits of red wine have long been thought to account for the ‘French paradox’ – the correlation of high saturated fat diets and low incidence of heart disease among French people.

Some recent reports have cast doubt on the health-giving benefits of reservatrol, which has been credited with a myriad of health benefits, from reducing inflammation to preventing altitude sickness to extending lifespan.

One recent study by JAMA Internal Medicine in the US looked at urine samples of 783 people living in Chianti and measured levels of resveratrol metabolites. They then monitored which participants died and of what causes over a period of nine years.

They found no links between resveratrol levels and the risk of death. Neither did they find any correlation between resveratrol and inflammation, heart disease or cancer.

Despite this, scientists have hailed the findings of the Georgetown University study. The Express reported Alzheimer’s researcher Professor Christian Holscher, of Lancaster University, as saying: “This result is greatly encouraging as it shows the new drug to be safe and it can enter the brain.

“It also normalises a key biomarker for the disease, so this is great news. A drug treatment that halts the disease is desperately needed and we all hope that this may be one.”

The principal investigator of the study, Dr Scott Turner, warned the findings cannot be used to recommend resveratrol.

“This is a single, small study with findings that call for further research to interpret properly,” he said.

There are estimated to be around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This number is predicted to rise to more than 2m by 2050 UK, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

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