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If red wine’s good, are resveratrol pills even better?


5 Star

If red wine’s good, are resveratrol pills even better?

Our Review Summary

This is a very interesting piece that explores the hype around a compound, resveratrol, a media and advertising darling backed up by little scientific evidence.   The story clearly addressed some of the issues consumers should think about when assessing the validity of claims made, even when they appear to come from credentialed individuals.



Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?


The story provided the wide range of costs for this compound.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


While providing a fairly comprehensive list of the various benefits attributed to the use of resveratrol, the story was careful to indicate the very limited evidence substantiating these claims.  It indicated that there are currently or recently completed only about a dozen studies involving this molecule and that of these, only 2 were the type of trial (phase 3) from which one would derive information documenting benefit.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story allowed a spokesperson from a company marketing this compound to say that there were no known harms. However, this was countered by a comment from a scientist at the National Institute on Aging who stated that everything has a toxicity and that safe levels for resveratrol remain to be established.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story indicated that there are currently two phase III clinical trials underway and described what is known about resveratrol as intriguing but very incomplete.  It mentioned work done with mice, round worms and yeast.  It mentioned results from two studies which point to the possibility that this compound might be of some benefit to diabetics.  But as the story also mentions – these studies weren’t actually published in scientific journals.

While mentioning the various health claims made for this compound, the story was  appropriately circumspect about them. A parting comment from a scientist from the National Institute of Aging indicated that until we know how this compound works and what the benefit might be – offering on the open market was akin to pedaling snake oil.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story included quotes from a variety of individuals with different expertise and perspectives.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Applicable

This criterion doesn’t apply in the example of this story.  Claims for reservatrol are so broad that it would be difficult to discuss other treatment options for everything under the sun for which resveratrol is promoted.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


In its introduction, the story was clear that it was describing a flurry of activity and interest around a compound found in red wine.  It also mentioned that only 2 of the current trials on uses for resveratrol were phase 3 investigations.  


Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story mentioned that the earliest hype around resveratrol for its impact on longevity was 2003.  

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 9 of 9 Satisfactory


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